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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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Background*

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)

Additionally, five countries signed the Agreement during the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Mauritania on 1 July 2018 – South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi, and Namibia – bringing the total number of signatories to 49. To date, six countries have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission: Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, and eSwatini (former Swaziland). Find out more in tralac’s AfCFTA Questions and Answers (FAQs):

AfCFTA barometer 2 July 2018

pdf African Continental Free Trade Area: FAQs and Ratification Barometer (500 KB)  - July 2018

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.


While tralac endeavours to list current legal instruments, we cannot accept responsibility or liability for any inaccuracies or omissions. The negotiation, ratification, implementation and/or modification of these instruments is an ongoing process and not always well-reported or updated by the relevant authorities. All documents are in English unless stated otherwise.

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