Building capacity to help Africa trade better

The African Continental Free Trade Area: A tralac guide (updated February 2024)

The African Continental Free Trade Area: A tralac guide (updated February 2024)

The African Continental Free Trade Area: A tralac guide (updated February 2024)

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The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was signed at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Assembly on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019. The  AfCFTA is the continent’s most ambitious integration initiative.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to:

  • create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments;

  • expand intra-Africa trade across the regional economic communities and the continent in general;

  • enhance competitiveness and support economic transformation; and

  • promote industrial development

The AfCFTA Agreement is a comprehensive legal compact which includes the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA, Protocols on Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Dispute Settlement, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy. Recently, Digital Trade and Women and Youth have been added to the negotiating agenda.

  • Phase 1 negotiations cover Trade in Goods, Trade in Services and Dispute Settlement. The Protocols on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services each have several Annexes covering substantive disciplines. Negotiations on a number of issues (e.g. tariff concessions, rules of origin for goods and schedules of specific commitments for services) are still ongoing. The negotiations of the Protocol on Dispute Settlement have been concluded.

  • Phase 2 negotiations cover Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights.

  • Phase 3 negotiations cover Digital Trade, and Women and Youth in Trade.

This booklet, updated in February 2024, provides a guide to the AfCFTA and how it fits within Africa’s broader development agenda – the architecture of the AfCFTA Agreement, what the Agreement covers, institutional arrangements, committees and other AfCFTA initiatives.

This edition includes an update on tariff negotiations for trade in goods, rules of origin, Phase II and Phase III negotiations, dispute settlement, the Guided Trade Initiative, the AfCFTA as a framework for Africa’s industrialisation, and value chain opportunities for African and global investors.

View the e-book here.

Further information on the AfCFTA negotiations, as well as the legal texts of the AfCFTA Agreement and ratification status of the legal instruments, is available on tralac’s AfCFTA resources page.


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