In line with the timelines established in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community of 1991, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement was signed by African countries on 21st March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The overall objectives of the AfCFTA are to:
(a) create a single market for goods, services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent and in accordance with the Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa” enshrined in Agenda 2063;
(b) create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive rounds of negotiations;
(c) contribute to the movement of capital and natural persons and facilitate investments building on the initiatives and developments in the State Parties and RECs;
(d) lay the foundation for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union at a later stage;
(e) promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation of the State Parties;
(f) enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and the global market;
(g) promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security; and
(h) resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.
Recognizing the importance of the quality infrastructure in promoting trade in goods and services, the AfCFTA Agreement establishes Annex 6, Technical Barriers to Trade which has the following objectives:
Article 4: Objectives
The objectives of this Annex are to:
(a) facilitate trade through cooperation in the areas of standards, technical regulation, conformity assessment, accreditation and metrology;
(b) facilitate trade by the elimination of unnecessary and unjustifiable technical barriers to trade through:
(i) reinforcing international best practices in regulation and standards setting;
(ii) promoting the use of relevant international standards as a basis for technical regulations; and
(iii) identifying and assessing instruments for trade facilitation such as harmonization of standards, equivalence of technical regulations, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment.
(c) strengthen cooperation and identify priority areas;
(d) develop and implement capacity building programmes to support the implementation of this Annex;
(e) establish mechanisms and structures to enhance transparency in the development and implementation of standards, technical regulations, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment procedures; and
(f) promote mutual recognition of results of conformity assessment.
Article 8: Cooperation in Conformity Assessment
State Parties shall:
(a) promote compliance with the WTO TBT Agreement;
(b) make use of relevant international standards and conformity assessment procedures;
(c) facilitate the development of conformity assessment capacity and technical competence that can support trade;
(d) promote the use of accredited conformity assessment bodies as a tool to facilitate trade amongst the State Parties;
(e) promote mutual acceptance of conformity assessment results of conformity assessment bodies which have been recognized under appropriate multilateral agreements between their respective accreditation bodies and the relevant mutual recognition arrangements of the AFRAC, ILAC and IAF; and
(f) enhance confidence in the continued reliability of each other’s conformity assessment results through, among others, peer reviews where appropriate.
Article 9: Cooperation in Accreditation
State Parties shall:
(a) promote utilisation of existing accreditation structures for cooperation in the AfCFTA;
(b) encourage and support African accreditation bodies operating in Africa to achieve international recognition;
(c) provide for and enable recognition and support of national, regional and multi-economy accreditation bodies operating within the State Parties that provide accreditation services to those State Parties that do not have national accreditation bodies;
(d) provide for a national accreditation focal point for accreditation services if a State Party does not have a national accreditation body;
(e) cooperate in the area of accreditation by participating in the work of the AFRAC;
(f) promote participation in the AFRAC mutual recognition arrangements;
(g) promote and facilitate the use of accredited conformity assessment bodies as a tool to facilitate trade within the AfCFTA; and
(h) coordinate inputs for liaison with the AFRAC, ILAC and the IAF.
AfCFTA Agreement Legally scrubbed signed 16 May 2018
Compiled Annexes to the AfCFTA Agreement Legally scrubbed signed 16 May 2018