Talks aimed at finalising key aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are facing delays as member countries work to reach an overarching agreement on rules of origin and tariff reduction schedules, the Global Trade Review (GTR) has said.
In a published statement on its website, GTR said rules of origin are crucial, and will have a material impact on how African companies trade with counterparts across the continent.
Reads the statement in part: “There are thousands of tariff lines, and these rules will specify for each whether a product can be categorised as Africa made and eligible for tariff concessions.
“However, the deadline for finalising the criteria is fast approaching and analysts say will likely be missed with countries still at odds over rules of origin on dozens of goods.”
Stefano Inama, a trade and customs expert at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, is quoted in the report as having told GTR that there is disagreement between governments over rules of origin for products in a few “sensitive sectors”.
Ministry of Trade director of trade Clement Kumbemba earlier said there will be reverse multiplier effect as long as Malawi continues exporting raw commodities which result in low export earnings, exporting jobs and employment.
The AfCFTA will be a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. It will also constitute a significant milestone towards the realisation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for the socio-economic transformation of the continent.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, negotiations on the second and third phases of the AfCFTA, which focus on investment, intellectual property, competition and e-commerce, are expected to commence later this year.