The countries of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAF) are determined to establish an economic free trade area, while applying a dose of protectionism.
In the principle of the treaty signed in Kigali last March, member countries will open up to 90% on certain products (over a period of 5 years for developing countries and 10 years for LDCs). And the remaining 10% will be excluded from liberalization.
On the sidelines of the meeting of African Ministers of Justice, held Friday, June 8 in Dakar, some specialists have returned to this release of goods and services.
Thus, the 10% will be divided into two parts. The first in sensitive products, enjoying a much longer period of liberalization, 13 years. The second in products excluded from liberalization.
For this purpose, the member countries will meet every 5 years (appointment clause) to see if the excluded products can enter the trade.
As it stands, the technical committee of ZLECAF has not yet chosen the products that will be affected by the liberalization.
Thus, each country must choose its list of products to liberalize in the category of a longer period and those to be excluded.
On the other hand, countries like Senegal which are members of a customs union can not present individually a list of products. It must be proposed in a collegiate manner with all the other member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Bringing clarity on the legal fundamentals of the ZLECAF, the Senegalese Minister of Justice, Ismael Major Fall, said the purpose of this meeting is to work on the legal grooming of these complementary texts.
“The experts have already purged the texts of their major legal impurities for 15 days in Dakar,” he added.
And to inform that, “the protocol backed by the framework agreement must be completed by annexes”.
“It will be for us following our colleagues in charge of trade to review and prepare annexes, to be submitted to the signing of the Heads of State at the AU summit next July in Mauritania” he concludes.
It should be noted that these annexes relate to rules of origin, customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance, trade facilitation, non-tariff barriers, technical barriers, trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, transits, trade remedies, and dispute settlement rules and procedures.