African Continental Free Trade Agreement Intellectual Property

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Dic 01

African Continental Free Trade Agreement Intellectual Property

To date, all African countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement and 54 national governments have formally committed to the creation of AfCFTA, with the exception of Eritrea. The AfCFTA agreement has been ratified to date by 31 AU member states, in particular Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, eSwatini, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Saharawi Republic , Sao Tome – Principle, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe. While the AfCFTA came into force on 30 May 2019, the AU`s extraordinary afCFTA summit, held on 7 July 2019 in Niamey, launched the AfCFTA operational phase with the agreement that AfCFTA exchanges will begin on 1 July 2020 and has decided to assign the AfCFTA secretariat to Accra Ghana. To exploit the potential of AfCFTA, Member States have committed to liberalising 90% of customs positions on goods within five to fifteen years through successive rounds of negotiations. The remaining 10% of tariff lines include sensitive products, for which Member States have more time for liberalisation, and products totally excluded from liberalisation. Efforts to reduce tariffs will also be accompanied by the phasing out of non-tariff barriers, the liberalization of trade in services and improved trade facilitation and tariff efficiency. These rules, including free trade zones or customs unions, have their own deeper integration plans that they will continue to follow. Intra-African trade continues on several tracks. As AfCFTA progresses and consolidates, there should be more political convergence and simplification of the rules. AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-African trade from about 13% currently to 25% or more through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalization. This approach is supported by the single market for air transport in Africa and the protocol on the free movement of persons. Expected benefits from trade liberalization under AfCFTA It is also disheartening that Africa`s three largest economies – Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa – have all refused to sign the AU Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, which was launched on the same day as the AfCFTA Agreement. This Protocol requires its signatories to grant other Africans acquisition and settlement rights (commercial or commercial), as well as protection from arbitrary eviction and expropriation.

The agreement establishing the Continental Free Trade Area came into force on 30 May 2019. Its main objective is to create a single African continental market for goods and services, with the free movement of entrepreneurs and investment, which will ultimately pave the way for a common customs union. Progress in completing AfCFTA Phase I negotiations, namely the definition of concession plans for merchandise trade, rules of origin and specific obligations on trade in services, is encouraging. However, Africa will have to do more than just increase trade in existing raw materials to take full advantage of AfCFTA, which is why the importance of opening phase II negotiations on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights will be essential.1 Especially in the case of an increasingly digitized economy and a stock of innovative young people , the work of registering and protecting intellectual property will be essential. to harness the full potential of AfCFTA and secure Africa`s future.