On 1 January 2021, trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commenced in line with the decisions of the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
To date, 45 and 47 State Parties and non-State Parties have submitted their initial tariff and services offers respectively to the AfCFTA Secretariat. These numbers also include submissions from four Customs Unions: the East African Community (EAC); the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) plus Mauritania and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
The implementation of the AfCFTA will influence the Regional Economic Communities’ (RECs) future trade policies. In this regard, effective collaboration between the RECs and the AfCFTA Secretariat is required to ensure that the AfCFTA outcomes are consistent with regional trade integration advances made thus far. On 20 September 2021, the first Coordination Meeting of the Heads of the RECs on the Implementation of the AfCFTA was held in Accra, Ghana in a hybrid format.
The second Coordination Meeting took place in Arusha from 4 to 7 June 2022 and was attended by the Heads of RECs, Heads of Customs Unions, Partner AfCFTA institutions and African Business Council and Business Councils of the RECs. The meeting was hosted by the EAC Secretariat supported by GIZ AU/GIZ EAC.
The meeting considered issues around steps towards the start of commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA, framework for collaboration on the implementation of the AfCFTA and mobilizing resources for the implementation of the AfCFTA. The meeting proposed EAC as the next chairperson of the coordination Meeting of RECs for a period of one year.
During the meeting, EAC Secretary General, Hon Dr. Peter Mathuki, noted that while Africa had one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, trade in goods and services accounted for only three percent of global exports and imports. He highlighted that this is to be changed with the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
AfCFTA Secretary General, H.E. Wamkelle Mene, provided an update on the AfCFTA and stated that first shipments under the AfCFTA regime are set to commence in a couple of months as most trading instruments have been prepared.
The meeting recognized the need to support and enhance participation of the private sector by ensuring ownership in the implementation of the AfCFTA is critical including increased awareness and sensitization about the AfCFTA.