World FZO had the pleasure to welcome AFCFTA Delegation at its Dubai headquarters on January 30th, 2021.
During the meeting H.E. Wamkele Mene, AFCFTA’s Secretary-General provided an overview of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Together with Dr. Samir Hamrouni, World FZO’s CEO and Zoë Harries, Project Director, areas of collaboration were explored.
African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) signed by 54 African countries aims to double intra-African trade by 2035. Currently at 18% intra-continental trade is relatively low compared to other trade areas such as US (70%) and EU (50%). Challenges on the continent include low levels of trade specializations, small economies, fragmented markets and lack of industrial capacity. The agreement includes a single set of rules to be adopted by member with the objective to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market.
AFCFTA Secretariat recognizes the importance of guiding countries with SEZs to leverage the FTA and boost the Agreement’s objective of doubling economic growth by 2035.
With an average pre-pandemic economic growth of 6.5%, six of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. The African Union is largest global free trade area, interestingly characterized by a large variety of sectors such as minerals, agriculture and industry and its dynamic markets offer great potential for growth. SEZs play a key role in value chains to accelerate value creation and create jobs.
The free trade agreement offers a wide scope on goods and tariffs and focuses on liberalization of (digital) trade in services. One set of rules are to be adopted to overcome market fragmentation, introducing Dispute Resolution, bespoke Rules of Origin and digitization of documentation and procedures.
World FZO has offered to support AFCFTA Secretariat with policy recommendations, dispute resolution, digitization as well as global and regional events.