Given that the Nigerian government continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was “regrettable” and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  The political dynamic towards free trade across Africa has strengthened. In March 2018, more than 40 countries signed the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. After its full implementation, AfCFTA is expected to cover all 55 African countries, with a total GDP of about $2.2 trillion. This NDS reviews recent business developments in sub-Saharan Africa and assesses the potential benefits and costs of AfCFTA, as well as the challenges of its successful implementation. In addition to increasing trade flows for both existing and new products, AfCFTA has the potential to generate significant economic benefits for African countries. These benefits include increased returns from improved efficiency and productivity through better allocation of resources, increased cross-border investment flows and technology transfers.
In addition to reducing import duties to ensure these benefits, African countries must remove new trade barriers by making their customs procedures more efficient, reducing their significant infrastructure gaps and improving their business climate. At the same time, policy measures should be taken to mitigate the different effects of trade liberalization on certain groups, as resources are redistributed in the economy and activities move to places where costs are relatively lower. Negotiations are under way with the African parties (Member States or REC) on Phase I protocols on trade in goods and services. Negotiations on Phase I protocols on competition, intellectual property rights and investments are expected to begin at the end of 2019. Maria Filipa Seara e Pereira advises the World Bank in the Trade Regional Integration Unit (ETIRI). It focuses on international trade and international development issues, including modelling, trade policy, trade distribution effects and global value chains. The perimeter of the AfCFTA is important. The agreement will reduce tariffs between Member States and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as hygiene standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would transform markets and economies across the region and boost production in the services, manufacturing and raw materials sectors.