African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Legal Texts and Policy Documents

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Legal Texts and Policy Documents

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The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area by an indicative date of 2017. The Summit also endorsed the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) which identifies seven priority action clusters: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration.

African leaders held an Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from 17-21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, during which the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA was presented for signature, along with the Kigali Declaration and the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right to Residence and Right to Establishment. In total, 44 out of the 55 AU member states signed the consolidated text of the AfCFTA Agreement, 47 signed the Kigali Declaration and 30 signed the Protocol on Free Movement.

pdf Legal instruments signed at the Summit launching the AfCFTA, 21 March 2018 (323 KB)

pdf Protocol to the Abuja Treaty relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, adopted 29 January 2018 (3.80 MB)

pdf Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA: Kigali Draft text (consolidated), March 2018 (2.83 MB)

The legally scrubbed documents, signed on 16 May 2018, are available below:

pdf Compiled Annexes to the AfCFTA Agreement (985 KB)

To date, 12 countries have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission – Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Guinea, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Uganda, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) and most recently, South Africa, Mauritania and Republic of Congo* – and an additional six (6) countries have received parliamentary approval for ratification – namely Sierra Leone, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, and Djibouti. The total number of ratifications (approved and deposited) now stands at 18.

* South Africa deposited its instrument of ratification on 10 February 2019 on the sidelines of the 32nd AU Summit in Addis Ababa. See the African Union website for details of Mauritania and Congo Republic’s deposit of AfCFTA ratification instruments (confirmation from the AU Secretariat pending).

AfCFTA Ratification Barometer 11 02 2019


Infographic: Status of AfCFTA ratification

pdf AfCFTA Questions and Answers (FAQs) (557 KB)  (updated February 2019)

pdf AfCFTA: a tralac guide | 3rd edition, August 2018 (3.49 MB)

The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion. In terms of numbers of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general. The AfCFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.

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Research and analysis

tralac has been monitoring the AfCFTA negotiations with keen interest. Several papers, briefs and discussion notes have been published to encourage debate and inform government officials, policymakers, and interested stakeholders on key issues involved in the negotiation of Africa’s own mega-regional trade agreement. A list of related outputs is available below.