African Continental Free Trade Area

*Extracted from The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement – what is expected of LDCs in terms of trade liberalisation?” By Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director, Trade Law Centre (tralac) and member of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP)

The Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) draws a distinction between LDCs and non-LDCs for the tariff negotiations:

  • LDCs have 10 years to achieve 90% liberalisation, while non-LDCs have 5 years.
  • The remaining 10% of tariff lines is divided into two categories.   7% can be designated sensitive products and 3% of tariff lines can be excluded from liberalisation entirely. LDCs have 13 years to eliminate tariffs on sensitive products and may maintain their current tariffs for the first 5 years, backloading liberalisation during the remaining 8 years. Non-LDCs have 10 years to eliminate tariffs on sensitive products and may also retain the status quo, starting liberalisation in year 6.   Both LDCs and non-LDCs may exclude 3% of tariff lines, but the excluded products may not account for more than 10% of their total trade.
  • A specific group of countries, the G6 countries (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe) have managed to secure a 15-year phase down period.
LDCs Non-LDCs G6 countries
Full liberalisation 90% of tariff lines 90% of tariff lines 90% of tariff lines
10-year phase down 5-year phase down 15-year phase down
Sensitive products 7% of tariff lines 7% of tariff lines Not yet determined
13-year phase down (current tariffs can be maintained during first 5 years – phase down starting in year 6) 10-year phase down (current tariffs can be maintained during first 5 years – phase down starting in year 6)
Excluded products 3% of tariff lines 3% of tariff lines Not yet determined

Note:

  1. LDCs: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia
  2. G6 countries: Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe