Ghana handed over the AfCFTA secretariat building to the African union commission couple of months ago at a colourful ceremony which received the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, chairperson of African Union Commission, Secretary-General AfCFTA secretariat.

The Rules of Origin

The African continental free trade cannot be operational  without the RoO ready. As at now it is 80 percent ready and if by January 2021 ,the complete book or document is not submitted to the customs institutions and points of entry of party  states, then the 80 percent will be allowed to drive trade while  time is allowed for the rest of the 20 percent to be completed.

Special application process for non-party states

It is worrying to acknowledge less than 35 members are fully party states of African continental free trade Area. If by January 2021 when trading commences, non-party states will have to apply through the set special application process for some stipulated period.

Set up AfCFTA National Coordinating Offices within the AfCFTA Secretariat and respective Offices.

Ghana will set up AfCFTA national coordinating office or centre to serve as a liaison office between her citizens ,private institutions, cso’s and the AfCFTA secretariat. This must be replicated by all party states in order to ease undue pressure on the secretariat.

The AfCFTA Secretariat must be fully autonomous

Our policy network has unravelled certain activities that can retard the performance of the AfCFTA secretariat. The appointment and recruitment of staff for the secretariat must be the preserve of the secretary general without undue interference from the African Union Commission (AUC). The secretary general is believed to have reminded the African Union Commission, his office is not an annex.

If possible all resources must be tailored to enable the AfCFTA secretariat to commence phase two(2) negotiations on investment, intellectual property rights and digital economy.

Though the AUC will want to alleviate the pressure on the secretariat it is better the autonomous AfCFTA secretariat be allowed to lead the phase two(2) negotiations.

The African ministers of trade must approve the operationalisation structures of the AfCFTA secretariat and ensure the schedules of priority products or sectors are submitted by all states.

We appeal to the United States of America to rescind her earlier decision not to recognise the AfCFTA agreement but rather engage African countries and not to have bilateral and multilateral agreements outside AfCFTA.

The Secretary General must as a matter of urgency partner the African private sector for budgetary support.

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Louis Yaw Afful is Executive Director of AfCFTA Policy Network