« The FTAA will not be in favour of African countries but of multinational companies », by Makhtar Diouf


Senegalese economist Makhtar Diouf gave his impression of this common market of about 1.3 billion consumers. Fifteen days after its operationalization, the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is still at the heart of the debates. Speaking to Financial Afrik on 14 January 2021, the professor firmly believes that the FTAA is not feasible and will not benefit African countries.


« How can we skip sub-regional and regional integration and go straight to continental integration? It won’t work, » he insisted. According to him, before venturing into continental integration, we must first succeed in sub-regional and regional integration.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other sub-regional organisations, he said, are typical examples of failed integration.
Taking the example of Senegal, the author of « Africa in Globalisation », indicated that the « country of Teranga » does not even manage to trade properly with its close neighbours Gambia, Mauritania, let alone Botswana, Uganda among others Kenya.
The disciple of Samir Amin showed his pessimism about the success of the FTAA in a context of unprecedented health and economic crisis. The professor gave an appointment to the public opinion in two months for the publication of his new book which will address the issue of African integration.
Reacting to this statement, Doctor Falou Samb, special advisor to Senegalese President Macky Sall on trade and investment, provided some answers.
For the chairman of the supervisory board of the AACICI-IAPC group, Professor Makhtar Diouf’s thesis can be refuted for at least two reasons. First, the FTAA is a « new scheme » designed to strengthen trade between African countries. Secondly, it boosts intra-African trade to around 15%, while European trade is between 60-75% and intra-American trade around 30-40%.
However, Dr Falou said he would be in phase with the professor if intra-African trade became a « proxy trade ». That is, he explained, third countries (China, the European Union, etc.) pass through the FTAA zone to trade with other communities, such as ECOWAS.
Rules of Origin (ROO) to deal with ‘proxy trade
« The FTAA member countries have taken into account the « proxy trade » to establish rules of origin (ROO), which are very rigid, very standardised and well documented in the agreement, » according to the specialist. These ROO, he points out, will allow products to be traded (imported or exported freely) across Africa. But on condition that these RO (authentic African products) are respected.
A non-African country that exports a refrigerator to Senegal, for example. This good cannot be exported as a Senegalese product or even to Gambia and neighbouring countries. Because this product would have to meet the RO first. The official recalled that the RO relate to agricultural and industrial products.
As a reminder, ROO play a crucial role in the development of international trade insofar as they allow the establishment of customs duties. They also allow for the establishment of trade policies that apply to traded goods.
Operational since 1 January 2021, the FTAA allows for a gradual reduction of tariffs on 90% of traded goods, according to a report by the African Union Commission (AUC).

Source: Financial Afrik (Ibrahima Jr Dia)


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