Current Date:

Saturday, 03 March 2018

CFTA Signing next March in Rwanda

Khartoum - (Khalda Elyas) The presidents of Africa will meet in Kigali Rwanda on 21 March 2018, hosted by President Paul Kagame, in an extra-ordinary Summit, to sign the

framework Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). This follows protracted negotiations over a record period of about two years and two months, since the launching of the negotiations on 15 June 2015 which effectively started in February 2016.
Attached to the CFTA Agreement will be the protocols on trade in goods, trade in services, and dispute settlement. The protocol on trade in goods will have a number of annexes, covering rules of origin, non-tariff barriers, technical standards, health standards, customs, trade facilitation, transit trade, and trade remedies. A few outstanding issues remain to be sorted out, and legal scrubbing has to be done: but there should be enough time up to 21 March to get all this done.
The CFTA will boost intra-Africa trade, creating jobs and incomes and improving welfare. Estimates back in 2014 were that the CFTA would double intra-Africa trade by the year 2022 over the 2014 baseline. With a population of more than a billion people and a median age of 19.3, a combined GDP OF US$ 3.4 trillion, 60 percent of the world's arable land, consumer and business-to-business spending already at US$ 3.9 trillion and projected to reach US$ 5 trillion by 2025, highest returns on investment in the world, some of the largest deposits of strategic minerals, Africa is a growth pole of the global economy and a player in global peace and security. The CFTA is a clear message to the whole world that Africa means business.
At their recent ordinary summit on 28 January 2018, the African presidents launched the Single African Air Transport Market, with 23 countries participating, covering more than 70 percent of air travel in Africa. They concluded also a protocol to facilitate free movement of people in Africa. Together with the CFTA, these three flagships programs represent quick progress under Africa's long-term vision, Agenda 2063. The agenda has 12 flagship programs, which aim to transform Africa into a more integrated, peaceful and prosperous continent by theyear 2063. It should now be difficult to doubt that Africa is serious about economic integration.
Integrating 55 countries and disparate polities of the African continent under the auspices of the Organisation for African Unity from 1963 to 2002, and thereafter the African Union, with eight regional economic communities (RECs) as building blocks, is the largest integration project in the history of humankind. It is no mean task. It will require continuous sharpening of technical, diplomatic, mobilization and organizational skills.
Practical application of regional integration programs reveals areas for creativity and innovation, which continuously results in new pathways at REC levels. Realism would therefore suggest that REC policy formulation and programs should continue full blast, for it is unlikely that continental frameworks would move as fast as those of smaller coherent RECs.