Working Papers

The AfCFTA as a Strategy and a Design

The AfCFTA as a Strategy and a Design

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26 Apr 2019

Author(s): Gerhard Erasmus

Regional trade agreements (RTAs) are increasing in number and exist alongside the multilateral dispensation of the World Trade Organisation. They are likely to shape trade and economic relations in future and are increasingly at the centre of policy debates.

This working paper assesses the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) – the world’s largest regional free trade area since the establishment of the WTO, in terms of number of participating countries – to contribute meaningfully to the ability of the State Parties to tackle contemporary developmental and integration challenges of the continent. Phase I of the AfCFTA negotiations is in its final stages, allowing for a discussion of the texts of the instruments already concluded.

The benefits for nations participating in RTAs come about through the efforts and ventures of the private sector, the enabling direction of Governments, and the support of the inter-state institutions agreed upon. Of these players, only States (represented by Governments) are parties to such agreements, but in most instances, they are not the actual traders or investors. These considerations have important implications, in the form of benchmarks for the design of a specific RTA, and for the purposes of the present discussion of the AfCFTA.


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