AU's approval of AfCFTA draft protocols paves way for more trade

Tuesday February 28 2023
AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene

AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene. The AU approved AfCFTA draft protocols on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy paving way for its implementations. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG


The African Union has approved the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) draft protocols on investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy paving way for their implementation.

The move signals conclusion of the AfCFTA Phases I and II protocols that provide a legal basis for the start of trading and gives members the greenlight to domesticate the protocols.

“The Assembly takes note of the executive council recommendations for the consideration and adopts the following Draft Legal Instruments: draft protocol to the agreement establishing the AfCFTA Competition Policy, Investment and on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR),” the AU Communique reads.

Phase I of the AfCFTA Agreement consists of protocols on trade, goods and services, and rules/procedures on settlement of disputes.

However, it will take some time for all the required ratifications to be processed with regard to national constitutional requirements for enforcing new protocols.

Eliminating tariffs


Under the protocol on Trade in Goods, state parties committed to reduce tariffs on 90 percent of goods traded amongst themselves in equal annual instalments until they are eliminated within five years for non-least developed countries (non-LDCs) and 10 years for least developed countries (LDCs).

For an additional seven percent of ‘sensitive’ goods, tariffs will be eliminated within 10 years for non-LDCs and 13 years for LDCs.

As of February 2023, 46 provisional schedules of tariff concession have been submitted by member states.

Under Phase II, finalisation of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade and Digital Trade will be concluded later in 2023.

“The protocol is a one-of-a kind legal instrument that seeks to address challenges that young people as entrepreneurs and traders face through legally binding commitments,” said AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene during the first African Union Youth Town Hall meeting on the margins of the 36th Assembly Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mene said the Secretariat had undertaken for the past two years and would continue to undertake extensive consultations of women and youth on the challenges they were facing when trading across the continent; and on the key elements that needed to be included in the protocol and its implementation once negotiations were concluded.

Meanwhile, Tanzania following Kenya and Ghana, begun a test phase of commercial activities under AfCFTA, more than six months after peers launched the project.

Tanzania said 10 products would be sold under the AfCTA’s Guided Trade Initiative. These include coffee and glassware.

Tanzania is among eight countries selected for the trial phase, including at least one country in each of the regional economic blocs.

Additional reporting by Apolinari Tairo