On January 1, the long-held dream of creating a pan-African free trade zone became a reality with the launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). What makes this project unique, according to Center for Global Development Senior Policy Fellow Gyude Moore, is that this is an African initiative whose success or failure won’t depend on the U.S., Europe, China, or other international partners.
The following is an unedited transcript of Moore’s six-part Twitter thread posted last week, one day after the start of the AfCTA:
Today is a big day for Africa. The AfCFTA is an Africa-initiated and Africa-led integration project. It is not some European partnership or compact with Africa. It’s not where Africa fits in China’s dual circulation or America’s “Prosper Africa.”
All of our major partners – China, Europe, the US – knew in advance of this day. By now one would expect press releases congratulating Africans and promising to work with us going forward. Hopefully, there will be high-level acknowledgment of this and pledges of support.
I won’t hold my breath. Europe will remain focused on EPAs and preventing African migrants, the US will keep pushing its bilateral trade agreements. A single African economic bloc – acting and negotiating as a unit – is not the first order of business for them. Fair enough.
Too often, the rhetoric of partnership with Africa has not matched actions on the question of African prosperity. Instead of engagement that finds value in Africa and Africans, we have been seen almost exclusively in terms of extraction or some competition.
The launch of the AfCFTA is a declaration of our commitment to African prosperity, to African lives and livelihood. The least we can expect is a recognition of these very legitimate interests, separate from great power competitions or some external vision of the world.
For us Africans, it’s important to have a clear-eyed view of the process ahead. The success or failure of this will be on us and us alone. So let’s dig in for the long haul.
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