French Ambassador to Ghana, Anne Sophie Ave, has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which came into full force on January 1, 2021, will take more time to settle down as the regional integration policy, in her view, could be more complicated than estimated.
AfCFTA seeks to harmonize 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, with hopes that the agreement will become the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.
However, the French diplomat, while touching on the prospects of the agreement in an interview on Pan African Television, noted that “it seems to be very easy. Truth is it’s a bit complicated because of some products you really want to protect; you want to protect a part of your industry, each country has specificities that they want to keep; and how do you do that with your currency? And how do you do that with the infrastructures? You say you want to trade more amongst yourselves but if you don’t have the proper infrastructures how do you do that?” she quizzed.
Although these are imminent challenges that pose threats to a smooth rollout of AfCFTA, the ambassador explained that “there is a path to get there and that is where we are ready to help. We want to partner with these countries.”
Commenting on whether Africa should be drawing lessons from the European Union, Ms. Ave called for the agreement to be developed to suit the unique opportunities and challenges in Africa, while liaising with other economic blocs to pick up vital lessons that could give a further boost to intra-Africa trade.