The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 for those countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification before this date.
According to Article 23 of the Agreement, entry into force occurs 30 days after the 22nd instrument of ratification is deposited with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) – the designated depositary for this purpose – an essential step for the AfCFTA to enter into force.
On 29 April 2019, Sierra Leone and the Saharawi Republic deposited their instruments of ratification with the depositary, paving the way for the AfCFTA’s entry into force. Since then, five countries have deposited their instruments of ratification: Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and São Tomé and Príncipe, with Gabon and Equatorial depositing their ratification instruments during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger on 7 July 2019, marking the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA Agreement.
The 27 countries that have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the AUC Chairperson are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Guinea, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Saharawi Republic, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, São Tomé and Príncipe, Gabon and Equatorial Guniea.
This booklet provides a handy guide on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the architecture of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA, what the Agreement covers, institutional arrangements, and how it fits within Africa’s broader development agenda. The booklet also offers an overview of intra-African trade in goods (agricultural trade, non-agricultural trade, trade in commodities) and trade in services, as well as intra-African tariffs and trade facilitation performance.
Further information on the AfCFTA negotiations, as well as the legal texts of the AfCFTA Agreement and ratification status of the legal instruments, is available on tralac’s AfCFTA resources page.
To jointly advance the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit,
Coordinators from the People’s Republic of China, 53 African countries and the African Union Commission (AUC) held a meeting of Coordinators in Beijing on 25 June 2019.
Both sides applauded the great success and the far-reaching historical significance of the FOCAC Beijing Summit convened from 3 to 4 September 2018. Both sides highly commended China’s policy toward Africa and new measures for China-Africa cooperation underpinned by the eight major initiatives and associated financing totaling US$60 billion, articulated by President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China at the Summit, and measures manifested in the pdfFOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021) (327 KB) . Both sides decided to work together on the follow-up actions of the Summit under the principles embodied in the pdfBeijing Declaration (418 KB) , engage in Belt and Road cooperation, deepen and elevate China-Africa cooperation, and work toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The two sides have agreed on the following:
Both sides commend the initiative by China and Senegal, co-chairs of the FOCAC, to hold this Coordinators’ Meeting and reaffirm the commitment of China and Africa to implementing the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit, to seeking greater complementarity between China-Africa Belt and Road cooperation and Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU), the development strategies of African countries and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. Together, the two sides will work toward a China-Africa community with a shared future that features joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, common cultural prosperity, common security, and harmonious co-existence.
Both sides welcome important cooperation outcomes and early harvests achieved by the two sides following the FOCAC Beijing Summit. Both sides express their readiness to step up cooperation in such areas as infrastructure development, industry partnering, and trade and investment, to tap into their cooperation potential in green development, capacity building, health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security, and to improve the structure of cooperation for the greater benefit of both peoples.
Noting the profound changes in the global landscape and the complex external environment facing China-Africa relations, the two sides commit themselves to multilateralism and free trade, opposing protectionism and unilateralism, safeguarding the UN-centered international system, and working together toward a community with a shared future for mankind, thus making greater contribution to world peace and development.
The African side congratulates China on the successful hosting of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and speaks highly of President Xi’s emphasis on promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and that of open, green and clean cooperation to foster a global partnership of connectivity with high-standard, people-centered and sustainable cooperation, as such cooperation has provided more opportunities for Africa to engage in international cooperation and improve people’s lives. China welcomes Africa’s active participation in Belt and Road cooperation which will lend fresh impetus to win-win cooperation and common development of China and Africa.
China commends, respects and supports Africa for progress made in the implementation of Agenda 2063 key flagship Projects, in particular the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which marks a historical milestone on the path to Africa’s regional integration imperative.
The African side commends China’s commitment to the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and that of pursuing the greater good and shared interests in its cooperation with African countries, believing that the four-point commitment and the “five-no” approach put forward by China at the FOCAC Beijing Summit speak volumes about the defining features of China-Africa relations, i.e. solidarity and cooperation, and point out a right path for international cooperation with Africa. The Chinese side commends African commitment to continuing to foster a closer relationship based on mutual trust and win-win cooperation. Acting on the above-mentioned principles and approaches, and with a commitment to common, efficient, green, safe and open development, the two sides will strengthen their strategic guidance and deepen the coordination of policies, mechanisms, and their cooperation:
The two sides will be guided by the strategic vision of building an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. The two sides will fully implement the strategic common understandings reached between Chinese and African leaders during the Beijing Summit, maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, and enhance strategic communication and experience-sharing on governance, with a view to elevating China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
The two sides will strengthen coordination on policies and mechanisms at the bilateral and multilateral levels. To deliver the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit, the two sides will further improve policy measures, formulate and advance national plans, and provide policy support for the eight major initiatives and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021). Both sides will enhance the institution building of FOCAC, continue to make good use of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of FOCAC, and welcome the establishment and improvement of follow-up implementation mechanisms on the African side in the next few years. Together, the two sides will ensure efficient, results-oriented and smooth implementation of the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit.
The two sides will work for greater synergies in market development, project cooperation and intellectual support. China and Africa will seek greater complementarity among their strengths in finance, technology, equipment, production capacity, human resources, market potential, energy, and natural resources. China will continue to support Africa in building free trade zones, special economic zones and industrial parks, provide assistance in the areas of trade, industrialization, SMEs development, entrepreneurship development, and high-quality data of the digital age, encourage competent and well-qualified Chinese companies to invest in Africa, strengthening partnerships through joint-ventures and cooperation with African private sector, and welcome African companies to invest in China. Both sides will encourage their companies to strengthen project cooperation in accordance with market principles, in pursuit of economic and social benefits, in line with the actual capacity of African countries, and based on clearly-defined responsibilities. Both sides will further promote the exchanges between Governments, legislatures, political parties, young people, women, think tanks and NGOs in order to foster a good environment for China-Africa friendship and cooperation. The Chinese side is ready to increase technological transfer and training, encourage innovation cooperation and regional value chains development, support African countries in cultivating more technical, industrial and management professionals, and promote people-centered and sustainable partnership between China and Africa. Both sides will take the particularity and vulnerability of Small Island Developing States into consideration while implement the outcomes of FOCAC Beijing Summit.
The two sides share the view that China-Africa friendship is built on a solid foundation and growing from strength to strength, that China-Africa cooperation is results-oriented, efficient and fruitful, that FOCAC is running well and setting the pace for international cooperation with Africa, and that nothing could stop the pursuit for win-win cooperation and common development by China and Africa or undermine their determination to stay united in their cooperation.
Both sides welcome continued contribution by the international community to African-led efforts in promoting peace and development in Africa through bilateral, trilateral or multilateral cooperation leveraging the strengths of relevant stakeholders on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect.
The African side expresses its appreciation to relevant Chinese authorities for successfully organizing this pragmatic and fruitful Coordinators’ Meeting.
On the occasion of the third African Union – European Union agricultural ministerial conference, African Union and the European Union representatives for the first time endorsed a Political Declaration, accompanied by an action agenda, with the overall aim of further strengthening the Africa-EU partnership in food and farming at all levels.
From climate action to an African-European farmers’ cooperation programme, these actions build on the recommendations put forward by the Task Force Rural Africa back in March 2019, an agri-food and rural agenda for the new ‘Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs' unveiled by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in September 2018.
Commissioner Phil Hogan, European Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said: "This Political Declaration represents an historic commitment by both continents to a shared agenda for greater action; building a partnership of equals for developing policies in the areas of food security, climate action, sustainable management of resources, rural job creation, sustainable investment and fair trade. It should be viewed as a very positive step on the path towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for rural communities in Africa and Europe.”
African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Amb. Josefa Sacko said: “I look forward to a stronger AU-EU partnership for revitalizing rural transformation in Africa. This third AU-EU ministers of agriculture conference gives us the impetus and opportunity to advance this agenda”. She noted Africa’s landmark step with the entry into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 30 May 2019.
“I am confident that a re-energized AU-EU collaboration on pertinent issues including robust Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS), biotechnology development in the face of climate change will enhance Africa’s trade capacity. This is the digital age and I welcome partnership in using digital solutions in agriculture including research and innovation that address vulnerability to the negative effects of climate to Africa. These ambitions require both public and private investment and I encourage that we all endeavour to work towards, and create conditions for increasing private investments in sustainable agricultural value chains that target youth and women as the future of our continent”, she emphasised.
The Political Declaration is a strong signal reflecting the shift in Africa-Europe relations based on promoting policy dialogue and cooperation as a development tool, bringing the two continents closer at all levels: people to people, business to business and government to government.
These different levels are also reflected in the action agenda, endorsed by all Member States. It includes concrete actions involving cooperation between the two continents in different areas, such as:
• Farmers’ organisations: launch of a multiannual cooperation programme with African continental, regional and national farmer organisations. The programme will focus on farmers’ integration into value chains while strengthening capacities of farmer organisations to influence policies and business environments. It will also contribute to the strengthening of farmer organisations themselves through better governance, accountability and service delivery.
• Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards and Food safety: The aim is to strengthen SPS Compliance and food safety governance in Africa and establishing adequate governance structures. This is being implemented mainly through discussions on the support to the implementation and operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Annex on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
• Research and innovation:
Three new contracts will be signed today to boost research and innovation under the Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA) Initiative:
i. A support programme for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) ex-pillar IV African research organisations (FARA, AFAAS, ASARECA, CCARDESA and CORAF), to be signed with IFAD, aimed at transforming agriculture and food systems and influencing policy-making (€30 million EU contribution).
ii. Support for the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP), to be signed with the FAO, to implement the TAP Action Plan (€5 million EU contribution).
iii. The One Planet Summit Fellowship Programme, to be signed with Agropolis Foundation (other partners: the Bill and Melinda Gates and BNP Paribas foundations), for African and European scientists working on the challenges of adapting African agriculture to climate change (€3 million EU contribution).
- Geographical Indications (GI): The EU to provide support, through the Pan-African programme, to the implementation of the AU Geographical Indication Strategy for Africa. The continental strategy serves as an instrument for rural development especially for smallholder farmers. It will more specifically launch an Africa GI training programme and an Africa GI web platform, i.e. a database for all African GIs; and will provide support to concrete GI pilot projects.
Effective follow up will commence immediately to ensure long-term implementation of these areas of cooperation.
For More information:
by H.E. Amb. Albert M. Muchanga African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry
In this commemorative article, the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry outlines what has been achieved since the AfCFTA Agreement was opened for signature on 21st March, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and what is expected as the African Union moves to launch of the operational phase of the continental market in July this year.
On 21st March this year, the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area marked one year of existence. It was opened for signature on 21st March, 2018 at an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda. At that Summit, forty-four African Union Member States signed the historic Agreement. The number rose to forty-nine at the July, 2018 Nouakchott, Mauritania Summit. Three more signatures were added during the February, 2019 Addis Ababa Summit, bringing the figure to fifty-two as we commemorate the first Anniversary of this major milestone in Africa’s resolute use of the lever of continental economic integration to deliver prosperity to her people in line with Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
Making the Agreement operational is as important as having signatories. While awaiting the remaining three Member-States to sign on, Africa is progressing very well in the direction of securing deposits of instruments of ratification on the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. So far, twenty-two National Parliaments of the African Union Member-States have approved ratification of the Agreement, with twenty Member-States depositing their instruments of ratification. At this point in time, Africa is just short of two deposits of instruments of ratification to have the Agreement enter into force, thirty days after receiving the twenty second instrument of ratification. At the time of going to press, the remaining two Member States assured the Chairperson of the African Union Commission that they would shortly be depositing.
It has been a momentous year of hard and smart work to create an African Continental Free Trade Area with commercial substance. As we commemorate the first year of this large market space, we do so with concrete achievements. The African Continental Free Trade Area is already delivering results well before it enters into force. In December, 2018, we held the First Intra-African Trade Fair, in Cairo, Egypt, which attracted above target exhibitions and business transactions. At the Cairo Fair, we had 1,086 exhibitors, 86 above target. We also had business deals over US$32 billion, well above the target of US$25 billion. This sterling achievement signals the potent force of the Intra-African Trade Fair as a viable platform and brand for trade information as well as actual growth of intra-African trade.
Africa is on target to launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area in July this year in Niamey, Niger where we shall hold another Extra-Ordinary Summit for that purpose as well as formally commemorate its First Anniversary. During the launch, the African Continental Free Trade Area shall be fully supported with well-defined rules of origin; schedules of tariff concessions in trade in goods; an online continental non-tariff barriers monitoring and elimination mechanism; a Pan-African digital payments and settlement platform as well as an African Trade Observatory portal. After July this year, traders across Africa will be able to make use of preferential trading arrangements offered by the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area as long as the trade relations involve the twenty-two or more countries that would have deposited instruments of ratification as well as conform to agreed provisions on rules of origin governing trade in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government shall, at the Niamey Extra-ordinary Summit also make a decision on the location of the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area which will have the principal function of implementing the Agreement through a focused work programme. Seven Member-States: Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal submitted bids by the deadline of 20th March this year. An assessment mission will be visiting these countries during May on the basis of which a report will be prepared for consideration by the African Union Ministers of Trade and the Extra-Ordinary Summit. It is the results of the assessment mission which will guide the Extra-Ordinary Summit on deciding the host of the permanent AfCFTA Secretariat. We wish all the bidders, good luck.
The work for the interim and permanent secretariats of the AfCFTA is already being cut out for them. A post launch AfCFTA implementation plan is under preparation and will be submitted to the African Union Ministers of Trade in the first week of June this year, who, if satisfied with it, will convey it to the Extra-Ordinary Summit for its consideration and adoption in July this year.
The vision is to create one African market. In this respect, the historic obligation for each and every Member State of the African Union is to sign and ratify the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. As we move towards celebrating the joyous occasion of the First Anniversary, we call, in the full spirit of Pan-Africanism and oneness; on all African Union Member-States to sign and ratify the Agreement before the July, 2019 Extra-Ordinary Summit.
In launching the African Continental Free Trade Area and making it work, Africa is overcoming the historic fragmentation and isolation of her economies by opening up huge commercial opportunities as well as improving transport and communication linkages among our countries. This aggregation and connectivity are forces for accelerated growth and sustainable development of African countries will enable us and realize the vision of the African Union and Agenda 2063: ‘An integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the global arena.’
We are creating more than a free trade area. In January, 2018, the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government launched the Single African Air Transport Market as well as opened for signature, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment. Moving forward, Africa shall, during this year, conclude work on schedules of specific commitments on trade in services as well as commence negotiations on Protocols on Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights. All these developments show that Africa is laying the ground work for the establishment of an African Common Market or Internal Market, in line with the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, signed in Abuja, Nigeria in 1991 and ratified in 1994. To this end, the February 2019 Assembly of Heads of State and Government directed the African Union Commission to undertake a readiness assessment for this stage of deeper economic integration and policy harmonization among African countries. Work is already underway to implement this strategic Summit decision.
With a strong foundation that has been created, Africa is now better positioned to speak and act as a united entity in global trade negotiations and in the process, leverage her strength to secure trade and investment deals that offer accelerated and inclusive sustainable development for her people. There is hence political, economic, commercial and diplomatic value in establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area. Indeed Africa is, by creating the African Continental Free Trade Area also signalling to the wider world that she is committed to multilateralism and global interdependence. In this respect Africa calls on the rest of the world to re-commit in using and strengthening the multilateral trading system to promote shared prosperity among all the people of the world.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is an inclusive undertaking for Africans from all walks of life: Government, Civil Society, Academia, Women, Youth, Diaspora, Labour, Entrepreneurs and several other stakeholders at the national level. With a view to broadening stakeholder involvement, the United Nations Commission for Africa is collaborating with the African Union Commission to assist African Union Member States to formulate and implement National African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation Strategies, with appropriate national institutional arrangements. This will achieve two strategic objectives. In the first instance, Africa shall be bringing her continental integration project closer to the people. Secondly, African Union Member-States shall be able to align national development policies and programmes to the African Continental Free Trade Area legal provisions and work programme. With such alignment and policy harmonisation, Africa’s prospects for rapid socio-economic development will be enhanced.
When Africa looks back to the Kigali Extra-Ordinary Summit, she does so with pride and satisfaction that a lot has been achieved in this one year. True, a lot remains to be done in the years ahead. But Africa is committed to build on this momentum and achieve much more to deepen her economic integration. It is in this spirit that we invite all Africans on the Continent, in the Diaspora and the friends of Africa to commemorate this historic day in July this year. In so doing, Africa shall be communicating to herself and the rest of the world, her resolve to create one African market and use this continental market to deliver accelerated and inclusive sustainable development as well as contribute to strengthening the multilateral trading system.
Read from Source AU Website