African Continental Free Trade Area – AfCFTA Facts

Signatories: 54 out of 55 African Union Member States
Ratifications: 31 African Union Member States

AfCFTA negotiations launched: 15 June 2015, Johannesburg

AfCFTA Treaty signature: 21 March 2018, Kigali

Formal entry into force: 30 May 2019

Operationalisation phase launched: 7 July 2019, Niamey

Trading under the AfCFTA expected to commence on: 1 Jul 2020

Negotiations coordinated by: African Union Commission, Department of Trade and Industry

Geo coverage: Africa Union and its Member States.

The AfCFTA complements existing regional trade agreements in Africa

Agreement: features protocols on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, competition and dispute settlement

Institutions: AfCFTA Secretariat, Accra, Ghana being established with an interim- Secretariat within the African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Data: African Union Trade Observatory

Further info:

Official info: African Union Commission, UN Economic Commission for Africa
Further info: Trade Law Centre (TRALAC)

AfCFTA video:

What is the AfCFTA? download fact sheet here

EU Support to AfCFTA: € 72,500,000

EU-Africa economic relations:

The EU is Africa’s largest trading partner: 30,7% of Africa’s total trade (2019)
The EU is Africa’s largest source of FDIs: EUR 221 billion of FDI stocks in Africa (2017)
The EU and its Member States are the largest providers of Official Development Assistance (ODA): 58% of total ODA to
Africa amounting to EUR 24.9 billion in 2018.

The AfCFTA is the African continent’s most ambitious integration initiative, embedded in the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, whose main objective is to create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and investments, thus expanding intra-African trade across the continent, enhancing competitiveness and supporting economic transformation in Africa.

The AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-Africa trade from an existing level of about 13% to 25% or more through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation. This will be driven forward by the complementary Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons.

Markets for products and services are also needed to increase sustainable investments and jobs – the main goals of the Africa-Europe Alliance launched in 2018. The themes also features highly in the joint political declarations of both continents, notably in the 5th AU-EU Summit and the Post-Cotonou negotiations.

The AfCFTA is a framework agreement covering trade in goods and services including the following protocols: Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Intellectual Property Rights, Competition Policy, Investment and Dispute Settlement.

The AfCFTA agreement aims to progressively reduce and eventually eliminate customs duties and non-tariff barriers on goods and allow free provision of services in priority sectors. Concerning trade in goods, the goal is set for 90% of products at zero duty across the continent.

The different protocols are negotiated in two phases (see figure below). Phase 1 focused on three protocols: trade in goods with its 9 annexes, trade in services with its 3 annexes and dispute settlement. Phase 2 negotiations will focus on the protocols on competition, intellectual property rights and investment.

The figure below explains the structure of the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.

source: also photos