The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement is set to enter into force on 30 May 2019. This follows the last two countries having deposited their instruments of ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement on 29 April 2019. In accordance with article 23 of the AfCFTA Agreement, entry into force occurs 30 days after 22 countries have ratified it.
The 22 countries that have ratified the AfCFTA Agreement are as follows: Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Guinea, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Saharawi Republic.
As explained by the Trade Law Centre (TRALAC):
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 [regional economic communities] 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.
The AfCFTA Agreement and other relevant resources are accessible (via TRALAC) here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].