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Protectionist drive may complicate African free trade

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


West African protectionism.


The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an African Union (AU) initiative to create a single market for goods and services throughout the continent, will start trading on July 1. In anticipation, the EU has declared its intention to establish a bicontinental ‘Eurafrican’ free trade area, building upon the AfCFTA. However, the nascent framework faces distinct internal and external threats.


  • The secretary-general post is a considerable boost for South Africa given the postholder’s role in implementing AfCFTA’s liberalisation.
  • Ghana’s main parties will try to outbid each other for farming support, with resulting protectionist promises, before this year's polls.
  • Intra-African tensions will be heightened by perceived AfCFTA breaches, such as Nigeria’s border closure.
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