AfCFTA Will Harmonize Investment Rules, Create Level-Playing Field, Says Eca Director

20 October 2020

Addis Ababa — The African Continental Free Trade Area is going to harmonize investment rules between its member countries and the rest of the world in order to create a level playing field after it starts trading next year, said Stephen Karingi of the Economic Commission for Africa.

The investment protocol to replace the rules would help to attract foreign direct investors to come and establish businesses in Africa, Mr. Karingi, Director for Regional Integration at the ECA, made the statement recently at a Nordic- African Business Webcast.

According to him, there are currently multiple bilateral treaties between African countries and bilateral investment treaties between some African countries and the rest of the world but negotiations to harmonize them would start after trading begins on 1 Jan.2021 and be concluded very quickly.

"The AfCFTA is a very deep and broad agreement that is not just focusing on trade in goods and trade in services but it is looking at those issues that would make this regional integration functional through competition policy, intellectual property rights, investment protocol and also e-commerce," he said.

The agreement entered into force on 30 May 2018, having been ratified by the required 22 countries. Currently, 54 countries have signed, and 30 countries have ratified the AfCFTA. The AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world's largest free trade area, with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.

Apart from exchanging views on AfCFTA, participants at the forum who included business persons, experts, politicians and policymakers from Africa and the Nordic countries discussed issues ranging from agribusiness in Africa, strengthening the business climate on the continent and how businesses will operate in a post-COVID-19 environment.

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