Trade and Industry

Advancing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and Agenda 2063 in the context of the changing architecture of global trade

  • Year: 2016
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Publication Author(s): Dr Faizel Ismail
  • Countries and Regions: Africa

This paper reviews the state of play of the African regional integration agenda, inspired by the vision of the Abuja Treaty and Agenda 2063. It argues that the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiators should adopt a “development integration” approach to ensure that the outcome of the CFTA benefits all its members. Towards this end, the CFTA negotiators should work on three parallel tracks: a) they must ensure that the architecture of regional integration is asymmetrical in favour of the Small, Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs); b) they must prioritise the fullest participation of all Africa’s members in regional productive value chains that enhance Africa’s industrialisation; and c) they must facilitate the co-operation of member states towards the building of cross-border infrastructure. It is argued that this vision and agenda of the CFTA and Agenda 2063 provide Africa with a powerful negotiating mandate to drive the process of engagement between Africa and its main trading partners, multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bilaterally with the European Union (EU), United States (US), China and others.