AfCFTA Trade Ministers Settled On Covering 87.7% Total Tariff Lines

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade has agreed to trade under AfCFTA regime proceeds on the basis of agreed rules of origin covering 87.7 percent of total tariff lines.

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AfCFTA also requested that all necessary steps should be taken to gazette the schedules of tariff concessions in accordance with the applicable national legislations.

This was made known in a communique at the 8th Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade convened in Accra over the weekend chaired by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Ebrahim Patel.

The AfCFTA is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union. Its overarching objective is to boost intra-Africa trade; deepen the economic integration of the African continent, and create a single market. It will in this way contribute to Agenda 2063 and the fulfilment of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

The AfCFTA aims to improve trade between African countries by facilitating, in a phased manner, the movement of goods, services, investment and people across the continent. This will enhance competitiveness of African countries in the global market, while encouraging industrial development through diversification. Ultimately, the AfCFTA’s aims to be the engine of industrialization and economic transformation for the continent.

Briefing the media, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade and Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Ebrahim Patel, stated that negotiations on trading services are in an advanced stage of completion with 46 member states having submitted their schedules of specific commitments adding negotiations will be concluded by 30 June 2022.

The Ministers that the progress made on Trade Facilitation on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor and the approach to corridor interventions towards the implementation of the AfCFTA. They proceeded to congratulate the Directors General of Customs for progress made towards harmonization of trading documents under the AfCFTA.

The Council of Ministers also congratulated the Government of the Republic of Gabon for successfully hosting the AfCFTA Forum on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and directed that work on the SEZs regulations be undertaken by the AfCFTA Committee on Trade in Goods.

The Ministers also noted that the progress made in operationalizing AfCFTA institutions, including the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and the Establishment of the Appellate Body and adopted the Modalities agreed by the DSB.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, stated that the Council of Ministers had noted the work of the Committees on phase two negotiations including; Investment, Competition Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, Digital Trade, Women and Youth in Trade and has directed the negotiations on the relevant protocols be concluded by September 2022 for subsequent adoption by Heads of State and government.

He commended the operationalization of the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS) and its successful commercial launch on January 13 2022, in Accra.

His Excellency Wamkele Mene commended the effort by Afreximbank for the mobilization of a facility of one billion Dollars for the development of the automotive value chain and to support industrialization in Africa and also applauded the ongoing efforts by the Council of Ministers to collaborate with the Private sector and the conclusion of the AfCFTA private sector engagement plan.

By: Paul Mamattah

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