Forty-four African countries have recently signed a Framework Protocol for the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that brings the continent closer to becoming one of the largest free trade zones in the world. Between 2012 and 2014, more than 75% of the continent`s exports were extracts; Yet, during the same period, less than 40% of intra-African trade, according to the African Union (AU), were extracts from de-demerit, underscores the need to boost trade within the continent. Intra-African trade is currently only 16%, compared to 19% in Latin America, 51% in Asia, 54% in North America and 70% in Europe. What complicates matters further is that Africa was already divided into eight separate free trade zones and/or union unions, with different regulations. [Note 1] These regional bodies will continue to exist; The African Continental Free Trade Agreement aims firstly to remove barriers to trade between the various pillars of the African Economic Community and, finally, to use these regional organizations as building blocks of the ultimate goal of an African-wide customs union.     Businesses frustrated by trade barriers could use a “non-tariff barrier mechanism” in the agreement to report and demand solutions to trade problems, Muchanga says. The AfCFTA agreement aims to gradually reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers and, finally, reduce them and allow the free provision of services in priority sectors. With regard to trade in goods, the target is set for 90% of untaxed products across the continent. It describes the bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to which that country belongs, including with the United States. Includes websites and other resources that allow U.S. companies to get more information about how they can use these agreements.
The various protocols are negotiated in two phases (see figure below). Phase 1 focused on three protocols: the movement of goods and its 9 annexes, trade in services with its three annexes and dispute resolution. Phase 2 negotiations will focus on competition protocols, intellectual property rights and investments. Given that the Nigerian government continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was “regrettable” and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  The signing of the Framework Protocol is not a free trade area. Countries have yet to conclude negotiations on protocols on trade in goods and services, intellectual property rights, investment and competition. AfCFTA is a framework agreement covering trade in goods and services, including the following protocols: trade in goods, trade in services, intellectual property rights, competition policy, investment and dispute resolution. There are duty-free exchanges between South Africa and the four other countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini) that make up the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).