Trade Briefs

The AfCFTA legal framework for the elimination of NTBs

The AfCFTA legal framework for the elimination of NTBs

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16 Oct 2019

Author(s): Talkmore Chidede

The elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) is identified as one of the main objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA legal instruments – the Agreement, Protocol on Trade in Goods and Annex 5 of the Protocol on Trade in Goods – contain provisions dealing with the ‘progressive elimination’ of NTBs in the AfCFTA. The reduction of NTBs in the AfCFTA could double intra-Africa trade, and increase the benefits of AfCFTA three- to four-fold. That means countries should be more serious about addressing NTBs under the AfCFTA.

To effectively eliminate NTBs, a legal framework must be able to address NTBs in a transparent, expeditious and predictable manner. State Parties’ obligations and rights (of private parties) pertaining to the elimination of NTBs should be clear, enforceable and justiciable. There should be (national and inter-governmental) institutions empowered to enforce and monitor compliance with NTB elimination obligations. Private parties should have access to dispute settlement and be able to obtain legally binding and enforceable remedies when NTB-related obligations are violated. Failure to provide for these issues will cause uncertainty in the elimination of NTBs, and recurring or emergency of new NTBs. The AfCFTA NTB legal framework will be evaluated against these issues in this trade brief.

This trade brief evaluates the AfCFTA NTB legal regime to determine its effectiveness in addressing NTBs within the AfCFTA. The trade brief will analyse the definition of NTB, State Parties’ obligations concerning the elimination of NTBs, the institutional structure for the elimination of NTBs, and the mechanism for identifying, reporting, monitoring and eliminating NTBs. The ambition to address NTBs has been far easier to declare in regional legal arrangements than to achieve. Will this situation be different under the AfCFTA legal arrangement?


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