What exactly does it mean to be an AfCFTA State Party?
It has been promised that continent-wide trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will commence on 1 July 2020. This will require the completion of difficult outstanding negotiations and the clarification of important legal issues. One of these legal issues relates to the position of State Parties. Who will, from 1 July 2020, be under an obligation to implement the AfCFTA provisions?
The legally correct position is that only the State Parties will be bound by this agreement and its protocols and only they (and firms operating from their territory) will reap the benefits flowing from preferential treatment, lower tariffs and the associated rules of origin, new market access opportunities, improved customs procedures etc. How outstanding AfCFTA issues are being negotiated gives rise to concerns as to whether this will indeed be the position when trade under the AfCFTA starts.
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