On Tuesday 15 December, ECDPM’s Sean Woolfrey participated in the roundtable discussion on ‘The African Free Trade Area and the role of external partners’ during Potsdam Winter Dialogues 2020.
African and European experts from government, business, academia and civil society joined in the discussions at the two-day international conference, with a particular focus on the following:
• How can the African Continental Free Trade Area help to strengthen recovery and build more economic resilience in Africa?
• What can be done to create a coherent African continental trade regime that benefits as many countries and communities as possible?
• Which specific policy measures and regulatory strategies can avert negative impacts, e.g. on employment and food security, in lower-income countries?
• How can international partners, meaning the EU first and foremost, facilitate and support these efforts?
The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating economic and social impacts on the African continent. As a consequence, even more hopes are resting on the centrepiece of economic integration in Africa: the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was officially launched in May 2019. Although action to implement the free trade area has stalled due to the crisis, African decision-makers and academics underline the urgency of the project and see the free trade area as the key to economic recovery and the creation of jobs for the younger generation.