« Despite its many sponsors, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is headed for disaster, » Jacques Berthelot


8 décember 2020

Please read the note below



I – External and internal trade of the world’s continents from 1995 to 2019

II – External and internal trade of Africa’s major regions from 1995 to 2019

2.1 – Contradictions in the African RECs according to UNCTAD and the EU’s EPAs

2.2-Percentage of extra-African trade in world trade

2.3-Percentage of intra-African trade in world and African trade

2.4 – Percentage of African intra-EC trade in their African trade

III – Trade in agricultural, manufactured and fuel-mineral-metal products

3.1 – Classification of products

3.2 – Distribution of African and SSA exports and imports among products

IV – Africa and SSA’s growing trade deficit in manufactured goods

V – Africa and SSA’s trade in fuels, minerals and metals from 1995 to 2015

VI – Africa and SSA’s agricultural and food trade from 1995 to 2019

The President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, said on November 27, 2020, opening the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC): “Africa’s ambition is to be the next world manufacturing center”. If this ambition is unrealistic in the medium term, it is reinforced by the support given to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by international institutions – the World Bank and the IMF having joined in 2020 the older support of UNCTAD and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) – and the European Union (EU), since this should boost exports and profits of multinationals, and it is sad that Nigeria has finally ratified the AfCFTA on November 11, 2020.

The headlong rush to fast-track the implementation of the AfCFTA, which is supposed to start in January 2021 while the minimum conditions for preparation are far from being met, greatly weakens the priority to be given to regional integration within the RECs and is absurd for Africa’s long-term self-centered development. Self-centeredness is a concept at the antipodes of extroversion or xenophobic sovereignism but promotes the sovereignty of peoples in a sense of solidarity and respect for human rights and the environment, without harming the rest of the world. It is necessary to achieve the objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. We are very far from the priority given by the WTO to access the markets of other countries through free trade that takes no account of the dumping linked to so- called non-trade-distorting subsidies or simply by centuries of colonial domination and decades of neo-colonial domination by the EU. For poor countries in particular, such as those in Africa, and as Samir Amin has shown, it is an illusion to think that “catching up” is possible by entering ‘global value chains’ in which Africa is condemned to remain at the least remunerative level of supplier of unprocessed raw materials, with no possibility of actual industrialization.

The sharp decline in manufactured goods trade and the growing food deficit over the past 25 years call for the African Union to be more modest in its ambitions to become “the next world manufacturing center”, far from the free trade illusion of the AfCFTA, a fortiori after the African Union acceptance to base its future relations with the EU in the post-Cotonou Agreement on the enlargement of EPAs to the liberalization of services, investment, intellectual property and government procurement. An elite of “young entrepreneurs” to create niche export markets cannot replace the tens of millions of additional jobs to be created each year to regain food sovereignty and the protection of nascent artisanal activities, which will require a minimal disconnection from the global market and the promotion of agro-ecological production systems and artisanal cooperatives richer in grey matter than in capital.

[5] UNCTAD, Designing trade liberalization in Africa, https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/ditctncd2019d4_en.pdf

[6] Les manipulations de la Commission européenne sur les Accords de Partenariat Economique intérimaires de Côte d’Ivoire et du Ghana, SOL, 29 mars 2020 (https://www.sol-asso.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Les-manipulations-de-la-Commission-europ%C3%A9enne-sur-les-APE-int%C3%A9rimaires-de-CI-et-du-Ghana-29-mars-2020.pdf)

[7] Kako Nubukpo, De l’industrialisation à l’émergence. Vieilles antiennes et horizons lointains. Entretien avec Kako Nubukpo, Afrique contemporaine, n° 266, 2018/2, p. 165-172.

[8] Gaëlle Balineau et Ysaline Padieu, L’industrialisation en Afrique et l’exemple éthiopien, Agence française de développement, L’économie africaine 2020, La Découverte, p. 41-57.

[9] https://www.agenceecofin.com/coton/1610-81422-politiques-agricoles-l-afrique-doit-sortir-de-ce-mirage-de-vouloir-se-developper-par-l-exportation; SOL : La Journée mondiale du coton de l’OMC peut-elle répondre aux difficultés des agriculteurs d’Afrique subsaharienne ? 17 octobre 2019 (https://www.sol-asso.fr/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/La-Journ%C3%A9e-mondiale-du-coton-de-lOMC-peut-elle-r%C3%A9pondre-aux-difficult%C3%A9s-des-agricuteurs-dASS-17-10-2019-1.pdf)

[10] L’African Growth Opportunity Act est un accord préférentiel des EU pour la majorité des pays d’ASS (en sont exclus les pays considérés comme ne respectant pas les droits de l’homme), signé en mai 2000 et renouvelé pour 10 ans en 2015 avec le consensus unanime de l’OMC, y compris de l’UE, et dont les exportations aux EU sont exemptés de droits de douane.

[11] Fatou Gueye et Alimadou Aly Mbaye, Obstacles à la création d’emplois décents et politiques de l’emploi en Afrique, Afrique contemporaine, n° 266, 2018/2, p. 156-159.

[12] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/fr/QANDA_20_2303; https://www.bilaterals.org/?new-eu-negotiating-mandate-for&lang=en


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