ARSO signs an MoU with the AfCFTA Secretariat on the implementation of AfCFTA Agreement, with respect to the elimination of Technical Barriers to Trade that has consistently hindered the intra-African Trade, as provided for under the TBT Annex 6, which also recognizes the role of ARSO, in the same, under article 6. The AfCFTA has the potential to increase intra-African trade by 52.3% by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers, especially the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTS) are also reduced (UNECA 2018). The Heterogeneity of the African Standards, within the RECs and Countries, make intra-African Trade costly, contentious and low (16%, TRALAC 2019).
The WTO encourages Harmonization, use of equivalence and mutual recognition in the bilateral free trade agreements, such as the AfCFTA. The anticipated standards to be harmonised by ARSO being comparable to the 4,547 HS6, Tarif lines for the AfCFTA. The AfCFTA TBT Annex 6 provisions on standards, Conformity Assessments and accreditation indicate the need for harmonization and mutual recognition between the State parties, with the role of ARSO defined.
As a policy instrument, the AfCFTA Agreement, under the TBT Annex 6 and SPS Annex 7, addresses the TBTs and SPS issues, and binds all State parties to commit to their progressive elimination and calls for cooperation in their development, harmonisation and implementation of standards, conformity Assessment and the related themes.The signing has taken place at the Roundtable discussion on the role of Quality Infrastructure in the promotion of the Pharmaceutical Sector under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), taking place on the sideline of the 6 days event the Intra African Trade Fair 2021, in Durban, South Africa, from 15th – 21st November 2021. The AfCFTA Agreement is coordinating the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement with all the Stakeholders and partners, like ARSO.