Trade disputes unavoidable despite AfCFTA – Secretary-General

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The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, says the existence of the agreement does not insulate member countries from trade disputes among one another.

He said such disputes are bound to happen.

However, equal mechanisms have been put in place by the Secretariat to ensure that those disputes do not deeply injure countries.

“It is expected that trade disputes will arise of one form or the other,” the Secretary-General intimated in an exclusive interview on TV3‘s Business Focus on Monday, December 13.

“And so we will have to apply the rules where these disputes do arise and apply the rules in a way that is impartial and that is competent and that, at the end of that process, seeks to make sure that we uphold the integrity of the trading system in Africa,” he told host Alfred Ocansey.

Founded in 2018, the AfCFTA Agreement began operations on Friday, January 1, a few months after its headquarters were commissioned in Accra, Ghana.

The free trade area agreement is aimed, among others, at creating the single largest market in the world on the continent to deepen economic integration.

Mr Mene said the Agreement is very clear on what each state party has to do “whether it relates to transit, trade facilitation or any other issue”.

As a result, he continues, each party knows where its limits in terms of operations are.

But the Secretariat, he disclosed, has set up a dispute settlement mechanism “that will be invoked where a specific country has a reason to believe that they have been injured and that a violation of their right under the Agreement has taken place”.

He stressed that trade disputes will not be peculiar to the AfCFTA as even the World Trade Organization (WTO) continues to settle disputes here and there among member countries.

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana