11 October 2017

Africa: Chief Negotiators Conclude the 7th Round of Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Negotiations

press release

The 7th Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum took place from 2nd - 7th October 2017 at the African Union (AU) Headquarters, in Addis Ababa. The meeting brought together Chief Negotiators and Trade Experts from African Union Member States.

The negotiators made substantial progress towards the conclusion of CFTA Negotiations and agreed on the following:

a) to adhere to the deadline of December 2017 to complete the draft legal text establishing the Continental Trade Area as directed by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government;

b) the title of the legal text, to be called "Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area";

c) the Protocol on Trade in Services, the Protocol of Trade in Goods and the Protocol on Dispute Settlement Mechanism to be integral part of the CFTA Agreement.

The Chief Negotiators provided guidance to the Technical Working Groups and instructed them to proceed with their respective work and report to the 8th Meeting of the CFTA Negotiating Forum.

The CFTA, is a flagship project of the African Union's Agenda 2063, and aims to boost Africa's economic growth and development through integration by creating "One African Market", which will boost intra-African trade and create a wider market of more than 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of US Dollars 2.19 trillion. The establishment of the CFTA is the first Agenda 2063 flagship project on target for completion within the roadmap established by the Agenda 2063 First Ten Year Implementation Plan. As decided by the June 2015 Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the second phase will comprise of negotiations on Investments, Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Policy.

During the meeting scheduled for 6 November 2017 to 1 December 2017, Chief Negotiators and Experts are expected to prioritize the finalization of the CFTA Texts. The CFTA-NF will consider pending issues in the Agreement Establishing the African CFTA during their next meeting scheduled to take place from 20th - 24th November 2017 following a Dedicated Session on Trade in Goods. Any unresolved issues will be referred to the Committee of Senior Trade Officials and then to the AU Ministers of Trade. The entire legal text will be considered by the African Union Ministers of Trade at the end of November 2017, prior to its consideration by the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Justice and Legal Affairs in December 2017. The draft CFTA Agreement will be on one of the Agenda items of the January 2018 Summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

For more information, please contact Mr. Prudence Sebahizi, Chief Technical Advisor, CFTA and Head of CFTA Unit - Email: SebahiziP@africa-union.org

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