The new Rules of Origin in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): what has been agreed, what remains outstanding
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an ambitious undertaking that brings together 1.3 billion people in 55 African countries to create the world’s largest free trade area as measured by the number of participating Member States. On final conclusion and implementation, its objective is the creation of an integrated market for the trade in goods and services and the free movement of people and capital.
For trade to happen under the framework of the AfCFTA, and as part of the broader legal processes around the implementation of the relevant legislation, the parties to the agreement must agree on and implement the legal provisions covering rules of origin (RoO) and tariff schedules (and details around tariff reductions). At this time, this has for the most part not yet happened.
As with all RoO negotiations, tension will continue to evolve around different nations’ industrial and economic policies and objectives, and the perceived needs of incumbent economic operators (traders, consumers, producers) versus the potential benefits that could flow from RoO outcomes that are perhaps more conducive to new market entrants and associated opportunities, and enhanced regional value chain development that features countries and sectors not traditionally party to such regional production networks.
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