African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET)
The UK’s Africa Free Trade initiative (AFTi) focuses on three key issues which stand in the way of Sub-Sahara Africa’s (SSA) capacity to benefit from trade; namely, trade barriers, both tariff and non-tariff, and poor “hard” infrastructure. Overcoming them requires continued commitment from African governments and donor support.
Thankfully, the All-Party parliamentary Group inquiry raises questions beyond the issues presently covered by AFTi. Two such questions are the focus of our submission; namely, “What are the key opportunities and challenges for boosting trade in Africa, and with the rest of the world, in specific sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services?” and “What is the role for development partners like the UK in boosting trade and investment in Africa … through promoting two-way trade and investment with African countries?
For SSA to fully unleash its export potential two issues, presently not covered by AFTi, need to be tackled. On both issues the UK, as an influential Member of the EU could help ensure EU’s trade policies support, or at least “do not harm” Africa.
(a) Market access to rich consumer markets, in view of the potentially adverse impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), presently negotiated between the EU and the US on Africa’s exports. This submission advocates not just preventing negative impact, but using TTIP to improve Africa’s access to both the US and the EU market;
(b) The need for Africa to increase trade within the region. Given the limited institutional trade capacity of most SSA countries, Africa’s already overburdened trade negotiators urgently need to focus on deeper integration within the African market. This submission advocates that trade negotiators are given the breathing space to do so, by proposing a moratorium on all trade negotiations with third parties that would require reciprocity, including on the implementation of the EPAs.