African nations are yet to find a common ground on key elements to be included in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) deal.
Issues that need to be sorted out include the rules of origin, primarily for textile and apparel, which experts feel have tremendous policy implications.
Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) also remain a challenge to movement of goods in regional trade blocs and across countries in the continent. As a result, AfCFTA could take longer to fully materialize, according to media reports from the continent.
These issues were discussed at a forum on AfCFTA by the East African Business Council (EABC) in Nairobi recently.
“There is emergence of new non-tariff barriers from the ports, borders to the final destination. This needs to be eliminated to support better recovery (post-covid),” EABC executive director John Bosco Kalisa said.
There are also delays in tariff liberalisation and agreeing on trade in services, experts said.
Countries are also yet to agree on modules to address competition, intellectual property rights and e-commerce guidelines.
However, the framework agreement on the establishment of AfCFTA, protocol on the trade of goods and services, protocol on rules and procedures on the settlement of disputes have been agreed on and adopted. Elements like trade facilitation, transit trade and customs procedures have also been agreed upon.
Intra-Africa trade is currently at a low of 15 per cent compared to common markets such as the European Union, which is at 67 per cent.