To ensure a robust implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in July next year without unexpected glitches, African Ministers of Trade and key stakeholders have finalized processes to be implemented in phase one roll out of the agreement.
Areas including trade in goods and services protocols as well as dispute settlement mechanisms were top of the agenda during the negotiations and as such the Specialized Technical Committee
(STC) of Ministers of Trade, Industry and Mineral Resources (TIM), of the African Union will soon come out with its final report.
This was announced during three concurrent meetings held in Accra last week: the extraordinary AfCFTA forum in Accra which consisted of STC -TIM joint negotiating forum; 10th meeting of the Council for Senior Trade Officials (STO); and the AfCFTA Council of Ministers meeting all of which began last week Monday and ended yesterday.
This is in sequel to the official launch of (AfCFTA) last July in Niger, where the African Union (AU) Commission tasked stakeholders to finalize the remaining negotiations and operational instruments in order to begin the implementation of the policy next year.
The operational instruments for phase one include Rules of Origin, which will determine the eligibility of goods to be traded under AfCFTA as well as modalities such as protection of infant industries and an online negotiating forum to enable member States spearhead the success of the policy.
The others include an online mechanism for monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers and AfCFTA mobile application for businesses; digital payments system for goods and services; a Pan-African payments and settlements system; and dashboard of the AU Trade Observatory; all of which are expected to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Meanwhile, considerable advancement in the negotiations of phase two implementation protocols of the agreement, these being: investment policy, competition policy and intellectual property, have also been made.