African free trade agreement looks easy but complicated – French Ambassador to Ghana

Trading under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) started in earnest on January 1, 2021, following a five- and half-year period since negotiations were launched on June 15, 2015. Tough negotiations were followed by signing of the Agreement on March 21, 2018, entry into force on May 30, 2019 and commencement of trading on January 1, 2021.

The French Ambassador to Ghana, Anne Sophie Ave has stated that after the AfCFTA coming into full force on January 1, 2021, it still will take more time to settle down as the regional integration policy in her view could be more complicated than estimated.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are; to create a single market for goods and services, facilitate the movement of persons, promote industrial development and sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth, and resolve the issue of multiple memberships in accordance with agenda 2063.

However the French diplomat while touching on the prospects of the agreement in an interview on Pan African Television’s Diplomatic Affairs program, noted that “it seems to be very easy. Truth is it’s a bit complicated because some products you really want to protect, you want to protect a part of your industry, each country has specificities that they want to keep and how do you do with your currency? And how do you do with the infrastructures? If you say you want to trade more amongst ourselves but if you don’t have the proper infrastructures how do you do that?” she quizzed.

Although these are imminent challenges that pose threats to a smooth rollout of AfCFTA the ambassador explained that “there is a path to get there and that is where we are ready to help. We want to partner with these countries”.

And in response to whether Africa should be drawing lessons from the European Union, Anne Sophie Ave called for the agreement to develop to suit the unique opportunities and challenges in Africa while liaising with other economic blocs to pick up vital lessons that could give a further boost to intra-Africa trade.

Source: Diplomatic affairs

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