ITC Chief Urges Africa to Stay the Course on Integration
Head of the International Trade Center Arancha Gonzalez says she understands skeptics of Africa’s trade integration but says it is critical to start now.
Africa this January 2020 rolls out the historic Continental Free Trade agreement and Gonzalez understands this is a process.
“There are many skeptics about the integration process “but I have chosen to see the glass half full than half empty” She said.
The ICF Executive Director told a media briefing on the sidelines of commemorations marking African Industrialization Week in Addis Ababa on Tuesday that “Integration is not a linear process and it will not happen in one go and we won’t have everyone on board,”
She urged African heads of state to reach a concrete agreement “quickly” on individual tariff lines to facilitate smooth trading under the agreement.
The AfCFTA has been designed to comply with multilateral rules including Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), as well as those requirements dealing with the elimination of substantially all tariffs and other restrictive regulations of commerce among the State Parties.
Article XXIV of the GATT states that “for the purposes of this agreement a customs territory shall be understood to mean any territory with respect to which separate tariffs or other regulations of commerce are maintained for a substantial part of the trade of such territory with other territories.”
On the other hand, Article V of the GATS says “This Agreement shall not prevent any of its Members from being a party to or entering into an agreement liberalizing trade in services between or among the parties to such an agreement,”
Experts agree that the AfCFTA is meant to be a rules-based trade arrangement and therefore legal obligations agreed upon should be respected with a provision of penalties for non-compliance.