The African Continental Free Trade Area according to its Legal Instruments
The conclusion of a trade agreement does not guarantee new trade flows. For that to happen, the reasons why trade between certain countries is at low levels must be addressed. Effective remedial action will require more than state policies; private sector initiatives will be critical. One of the reasons why governments negotiate new trade deals is to establish a better enabling environment for attracting investment, for goods and services to be produced and sold to customers elsewhere who want to buy them and can afford them. The reasons why only 15% of the goods produced in Africa are exported to other African markets must be understood and be dealt with when a continental Free Trade Area (FTA) is launched.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) constitutes an important step in this direction. It is anchored in a collection of international legal instruments negotiated and ratified by sovereign states. Trade negotiations on this scale involve, by their very nature, several aims and objectives. In addition to creating new opportunities for trade to flourish, the participating governments will also strive to balance their offensive and defensive interests and to advance existing benefits. They will not open domestic markets to foreign competition without being guaranteed reciprocal rewards. They would want to make sure that the domestic economy will be able to compete, survive and grow.
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