To what extent could the AfCFTA contribute to intra-African trade? As noted above, it will take a long time for the economic impact to be felt. According to the IMF, a 90% trade liberalization within the AfCFTA would lead to a relatively modest increase in trade of 16%. The reason for this is that 90% liberalisation sounds impressive, but it is not very ambitious. In most countries, most imports are already duty-free; In Namibia, for example, it is about 60%. Thus, if 10% of products are excluded from tariff reductions, the most dynamic categories can be excluded. Economists Peter Draper and Andreas Freytag go so far as to conclude that this lack of ambition will prevent the AfCFTA from achieving truly sensible liberalisation. What does this mean in concrete terms? Article 4 states unequivocally that the AfCFTA does not affect existing agreements such as EPAs and thus answers a frequently asked question in Germany: at this stage, African trade integration does not require a new comprehensive agreement between the European Union and the African Union to replace the EPAs. Article 4 also confirms that some countries and regions will continue to be able to conclude new agreements with third countries. This is not a problem, because unlike a customs union, the AfCFTA does not impose uniform customs duties against third countries. As a free trade area, it only liberalizes trade between participating countries.
All participants thus retain the freedom to conclude their own agreements, including various external tariffs. To achieve concrete results, it will also be necessary to enable the private sector to truly seize new opportunities in the market. This means market information and often strives to improve the competitiveness of the industry. To attract investment, whether local, regional or from third countries, African countries must continue to improve framework conditions and facilitate trade. The G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) and the European External Investment Plan (within the framework of the Africa-Europe Alliance) are framework conditions to be used for these support efforts. EU External Trade Policy, Trade, Foreign Trade, Development Cooperation, Economy and Finance of a Country/Region, Regional Cooperation and Alliances, African Union (AU), European Union The IMF therefore believes that it is essential to take seriously the concerns of the weaker nations to make progress in the further negotiations. But these countries are particularly likely to take protectionist positions and will be reluctant to open up their own markets, not least because they fear increasing competition within a free trade area. Efforts have been made to address these concerns in discussions with ”special and differential treatment” for the weakest countries. The AfCFTA least developed countries have already obtained the concession to gradually reduce their tariff reductions over a period of thirteen years instead of ten.
However, special treatment does not automatically apply to derogations from market opening; Interested countries must prove their eligibility on the basis of specific criteria. . . .