Six countries from three regional economic blocs have yet to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), delaying its implementation by more than a year after its official launch in January 2021.
The AfCFTA , an idea of The African Union’s Integration and Prosperity Agenda 2063 was intended to create a large market for its member states. But more than a year after its introduction, some countries are still reluctant to transpose its legal framework into national law.
In the East African Community (EAC), South Sudan has yet to ratify the AfCFTA and in the South African Customs Union (SACU ), Botswana has yet to ratify and deposit its instrument of ratification.
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A The Second Coordination Meeting of Heads of Regional Economic Communities , held in Arusha on June 7, also revealed that Benin, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia, members of the Economic Community of West Africa (Ecowas), have yet to become States Parties.
SACU includes Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa.
Eritrea has yet to become a member of AfCFTA, making it difficult to discuss tariff and trade offers within the continent. However, in the EAC Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have ratified the agreement, while in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) all six member states (Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic) have ratified the agreement (CAR) , Chad and Equatorial Guinea) are contracting parties to the agreement.
“While it is now possible for contracting states whose customs procedures are willing to trade under the AfCFTA preferential terms, trade is not taking place. There remain some outstanding issues hampering our joint efforts to facilitate effective trade under AfCFTA’s preferential trade regime,” said AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene at the Arusha meeting.
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Political will and documentation
Mene said trading has yet to begin barring by a number of factors, including the failure of all African countries to ratify the agreement, tariff offers, rules of origin and trade documents have yet to be submitted.
For example, while 54 AU member states have signed the AfCFTA agreement, only 43 Member States ratified the agreement and deposited their instruments of ratification of the agreement with the AfCFTA Secretariat.
However, according to the agreement, the entry into force occurs 30 days after the deposit of the 22nd instrument of ratification en to the Chairman of the African Union Commission.
Ten State Pa States and non-States Parties – Comoros; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Mozambique; Libya; Somalia; Sudan; Tunisia; and the Republic of Sahrawi have not yet submitted a tariff offer.
“We are working closely with the RECs to ensure that all constituent members of customs unions become States Parties in order not to compromise the smooth implementation of the AfCFTA and integrity of the Common External Customs at REC level. We expect more ratifications before the end of the year,” Mene said.
As of May 31, 45 out of 55 countries had submitted tariff offers to the AfCFTA Secretariat, including submissions from CEMAC; EAC; Ecowas and SACU and some countries that submitted individually: Algeria; Angola; Egypt; DR Congo; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritius; Morocco; Sao Tome & Principe; Seychelles; Zambia; and Zimbabwe.
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The EAC Secretary General Dr low intra-African trade and called for the rapid Implementation of the AfCFTA.