Issues for CFTA negotiators to consider
This paper will examine the modalities (the formulas, targets, or specific measures used to accomplish stated objectives) associated with current negotiations on the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). We emphasise that the CFTA must focus on political and African integration realities and not unrealistic and dogmatic trade and economic objectives. In order to achieve a successful outcome to the negotiations, there are three crucial issues that we believe negotiators and African policy makers need to be clear about:
Firstly, that the modern free trade agreement (FTA) is not overwhelmingly or even importantly about comprehensive free trade or the elimination of import tariffs. It is about the reduction of tariffs over time that aim, to the extent possible, towards their elimination (or more realistically, mitigation) and trade facilitation.
Secondly, the corollary of the first, is that several issues are at least as important as tariff elimination, and this paper will discuss some of these issues.
And finally, acknowledging the realities of African politics, there needs to be a recognition in Africa that not all countries are ready or able to join an FTA at this stage. Arrangements to recognise and accommodate this while still moving ahead with the FTA need to be found. If these arrangements are not found, the several failed or semi-failed states in Africa will ensure the dream of African integration is never realised.
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