African trade accord has huge potential but history of past failures weighs heavily

27 June 2021 - 00:00 By Peter Fabricius

Trading through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was officially launched with considerable fanfare on January 1 for the 81% of goods for which rules of origin had been agreed - and between those countries that had mutually determined tariff concessions.

Ambitions for the trade accord are large. At the extraordinary African Union (AU) summit in December 2020, Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA, characterised it as a tool "for effecting a fundamental structural transformation of Africa's economy and placing Africa on a path of long-term industrial development". This would dismantle the existing "colonial" economic model of overreliance on the export of primary commodities to traditional markets of the North...

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