ing exports to enter fully fromZambia and is trying to levy the same tariffs as before, what is the mechanism by which the trade agree- ment can be enforced? In addition, there is a dispute settlements protocol. It is very clear and sets out the steps and procedures for resolv- ing any dispute that arises. And so, for example, partyAwould bewellwithin its rights under the agreement to say to party B: “You have allowed these goods to transit into your border but you are not living up to your obligations, I have a right to enter your market under the agree- ment’s conditions.” The dispute settlements process would then


kick in at that point. There is a panel that is established by the parties, a panel of interna- tional experts,whichwill adjudicateonthemer- its of the dispute and it will issue a ruling. Each party to the dispute gets to decidewhowill be its adjudicator. We have learned from the World TradeOrganisation and improved on its dispute settlement understanding. The real question–which I think is themost

pertinent – is when will people start to see results [from the pact], whenwill traders be able to exports their goods or services into the next- doormarket, and Iwant to be clear here, thatwe should not expect these things to happen over- night. Some countries – maybe because of bal- ance of payments problems – five or six years down the line, may say: “We have a liquidity cri- sis, we cannot do this for one year,” and the agreementmakes provision for that.


In five years time, will there be a lot more free trade in Africa?

There will be, yes. But I don’t think we should hold Africa to a different standard; it took

Europe a long time to implement its agreement. The experience of Europe demonstrates the diffi- culties ofmarket integration. In each Africa sub-region, all the important

elements are there. There is a challenge because somemembers of customs unions – for example, Tanzania and Burundi, members of the East African Community [EAC] – have not yet ratified the agreement. EAC must work together to find a way to implement the agreement even though two EAC partner states have not yet ratified it. I know for a fact that Tanzania and Burundi are working towards ratification because I have spo- kento senior officials. By the end of the year,wewill be at around 45

countries that have deposited their instruments of ratification. Ratification is important but the moreimportant step is having the customsproce- dures and customsinfrastructure in place, which is acomplicatedtechnical exercise.


Are highways that connect west and east Africa needed? How can they be con-

structed withoutdamaging the naturalworld toomuch?Whatare theopportunities for for- eign investors?

April/May 2021

There is a non-tariff barrier (NTB) reporting mechanism to respond to NTBs in real time


can say is that environmental concerns are important to bear in mind. However, what is required on a huge scale is


infrastructure investment that will support trade. We know this, for example, from south- ern Africa, the Maputo corridor: we know the impact that creating these trade corridors can have in enhancing commerce in a particular region.Egypt isbuildinga corridor that will con- nect north Africa to west Africa, and another that will connect north Africa to east Africa. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has a very noble ambition for a road corridor that will connect the country all thewaydownto southern Africa. If we do not significantly improve our infra-

structure we will not be able to reach the results and the full potential of this trade agreement. There is more than a $100bn deficit in cross- regional infrastructure. The infrastructure we require that will have a significant impact on intra-African trade are the road links that con- nect west and east Africa and the road links that connect central and southern Africa. There is a need for greater railway integration, too.


What is your overall ambition as secre- tary of the AfCFTA?

Wewantthis toputAfricainapositivelightin terms of investor sentiment, investor confi-

dence. Earlier we were talking about the dispute settlement mechanism. That did not exist before. Now we have one for the resolution of commer- cial, tradeandinvestmentdisputes. This pact must have the effect of improving

the ease of doing business on the African conti- nent. I think the practical effect of the harmonisa- tion ofrules willbeimprovingAfrica’s investment climate.Non-African investorshavebeensaying to me: “We are taking a wait-and-see approach, we want to see Africans implementing this agree- ment before we come in and invest in infrastruc- ture because we want a legally sound environ- mentto invest in.” A lamentable 18%of all Africa’s commerce at

the moment is intra-African trade, while the equivalent figure in east Asia is around 35% to 40%. We trade more with the rest of the world than we do among ourselves. I want us to double intra-Africantradeby2035.Thatiswithinreach.■

WamkeleMeneisthesecretarygeneralofthe AfricanContinentalFreeTradeArea


Well, I am not an expert on environmental issues in the context of infrastructure. All I


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