The Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): A look at the wide range of instruments, arrangements and issues to be taken in to account
Article 7 of the Framework Agreement establishing the AfCFTA provides that in pursuance of the objectives of the Agreement, member states shall enter into Phase II negotiations in the areas of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), Investment and Competition Policy. Further, under Article 8 of the Framework Agreement, it is stated that the Protocols on Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, IPRs, Competition Policy, Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes and their associated Annexes and Appendices shall form part of the single undertaking, subject to entry into force.
The AfCFTA Negotiating Forum has established a Technical Working Group (TWG) on IPRS, the role of which is to undertake relevant technical work in relation to the proposed Protocol on IPRs. What became clear during the first meeting of the TWG is that the TWG has a substantial task ahead of it, and that the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic may have a significant impact on the timing of the Phase II negotiations. As is often the case with TWGs, the availability of a first draft text will be a key moment, and the discussions on the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the TWG gave the clear impression that the TWG’s expectation is that the Secretariat of the African Union Commission (AUC) will produce this first draft, which will have the status of a non-paper until the TWG has considered it and has agreed to use it as the basis for its further work.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a concise summary of the instruments, arrangements and issues that will have to be considered during the preparations for this comprehensive exercise.
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