No trade activity has taken place 18 months on since the official launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The duty-free trade deal, involving 54 countries on the continent, was launched in January 2021; but trade is yet to take off, the AfCFTA Secretariat said, citing the many complexities in member-states.
So far, it said, 36 countries have had their tariffs concession schedule technically verified by AfCFTA Secretariat. These countries include Ghana together with the ECOWAS bloc, Mauritania and Egypt.
The rest are members of the East Africa Economic Community, and Economic Community of Central African States.
A total of 46 countries have submitted their tariffs concession schedule, out of which these were approved after they met all requirements.
This was disclosed by Peter Joy Sewornoo, Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General at the AfCFTA Secretariat. He spoke to the B&FT in Accra at an event organised by AfCFTA Policy Network in collaboration with University of Ghana on the topic: ‘State of AfCFTA Trading 2022’.
“The launch of the AfCFTA tariff book, rules of origin manual are demonstrable that, indeed, we are ready to start trading across the continent,” he said.
Admittedly, he said implementation of the free trade area is not going to be an easy task. He, however, added that the 36 countries would begin trading among themselves, while the rest wait to be technically verified by the secretariat.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is an ambitious trade pact to form the world’s largest free trade area by creating a single market for goods and services of almost 1.3 billion people across Africa, and deepening the economic integration of the continent.
To boost trade among member-states, Mr. Sewornoo said a US$11million facility had been secured from the African Development Bank for advocacy and AfCFTA awareness activities across the continent.
He also disclosed that a monitoring and evaluation tool to curb non-tariffs barriers to intra-Africa trade has been set up.
Pilot trade project
To set the tone for continent-wide trade under the free market area, he said the secretariat is undertaking a pilot trade project dubbed: ‘AfCFTA Facilitated and Guided Trading initiative’, for seven countries.
The countries – Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda – are being supported by the secretariat to trade among themselves, as part of efforts to test the readiness of the whole AfCFTA infrastructure.
“The Secretary-General undertook an initiative, AfCFTA Facilitated and Guided Trading initiative, which seeks to test the readiness of the system. We want to start commercially.
“The implementation process will be difficult, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with the step. That is why the Facilitated and Guided Trading initiative is important in boosting intra-Africa trade,” Mr. Sewornoo added.