The AfCFTA and the Future of the U.S.-Africa Trade

On December 16, Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, briefed a select group of U.S. companies from CCA and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center on where things stand on AfCFTA, and what opportunities to expect in 2022.  As a signal of the importance Africa is placing on attracting more American companies to invest and do business in Africa, Mene noted that he had picked Washington for his first official trip outside of Africa.  He noted that African negotiators are just a few tariff lines away from finishing up the last item in the first phase of negotiations (on rules of origin), which will allow companies to trade under the same set of rules and standards across the 39 countries that have already ratified the agreement.  Phase II negotiations will include services and investor protections, among other things.  The AU is intent on liberalizing services as quickly as possible, and will focus on distribution and logistics services, financial services, ICT and health.  The AU is also keen to get private sector input, and to match opportunities with companies.  They plan to hold an investment and trade summit during 2022, and Mene promised to stay in close touch with CCA to develop specific opportunities, including in key sectors like ICT, health and energy.