Trade Briefs

The AfCFTA: What has been achieved and when will it become operational?

The AfCFTA: What has been achieved and when will it become operational?

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11 Jun 2018

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus

The first important steps towards the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) have been taken. The Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU), held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 21 March 2018, launched the AfCFTA by adopting the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Protocol on Trade in Goods, the Protocol on Trade in Services and the Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes. These instruments were also signed by 44 AU Member States. A major part of the work on the first phase of the AfCFTA negotiations has now been completed.

Very important milestones have been reached in a short period of time and there are strong indications of high levels of political support for the AfCFTA. However, final entry into force will only happen once the negotiations have been completed and the required number of ratifications have been deposited. Article 23 foresees two stages of entry into force; first for the Agreement and the Protocols on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services, as well as for Dispute Settlement. The Protocols on Investment, Intellectual Property Rights, Competition Policy (and any other Instrument within the scope of this Agreement deemed necessary), shall enter into force after the second round of negotiations.

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