Can the AfCFTA evolve into a New Generation Partnership for Africa?
Agreements to establish so-called new generation Free Trade Areas (FTAs) have become frequent. They are “new” because they liberalise not only trade in goods but also services, and they include other related disciplines. They liberalise trade among the relevant Parties in a WTO-plus manner. They typically deal with matters such as competition, investment, sustainable development, and intellectual property rights and aim to serve as platforms for preferential trade and market integration under 21st century conditions. These agreements also develop new approaches for reaping the benefits of technological developments (e.g. e-commerce and digitalisation) in regulating trade and managing customs administration and trade facilitation.
This Trade Report examines aspects of these new FTAs against the background of the negotiations to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Are there lessons to be learned from developments elsewhere, or are Africa’s problems unique to the extent that home-grown solutions must be found? What exactly is the AfCFTA in terms of multilateral trade rules? The relevant World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules are briefly discussed.
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