What: Inaugural Meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Where: AfCFTA Secretariat HQ
When: Monday, 26th of April, 2021, Opening Ceremony
Registration link: https://bit.ly/3eioLUg
Wednesday, 28th, April, 2021, Press Briefing
Registration link: https://bit.ly/3tBQmGo
- H.E. Mr. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
- HE Ebrahim Patel Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Trade of the Republic of South Africa
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free-trade area, started trading on 1 January 2021, creating a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $3 trillion. The AfCFTA Secretariat is committed to promoting trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. One of the key elements of the Agreement is the Dispute Settlement Body Protocol that will be officially inaugurated by the Senior Trade Officials Meeting Monday 26th of April 2021. The officials will Election of New Bureau.
The Dispute Settlement Body is composed of representatives of all State Parties and monitors and evaluates the functions of the dispute settlement mechanism. It is set up to be fast, efficient, rules-based and transparent.
The mechanism is for disputes between and among the Member States. While there is no direct access for private actors, the continental private sector plays a key role through lobbying their Member State governments to ensure that they alert breaches of market access obligations by the other Member States. Disputes are adjudicated by trusted and competent panellists chosen from a list of candidates nominated by the Member States, two experts each, so it is a carefully thought out balance between party control and independent expertise.
The mechanism establishes a standing Appellate Body (AB) to review panel decisions and ensure the soundness and fairness that comes from a two-tier system. In addition to adjudication by panels and the Appellate Body, the mechanism also allows options such as the use of the SG’s good offices, conciliation, mediation and arbitration which provide even faster means to resolve disputes.
The system is inspired by those aspects of the WTO system that have proved effective such as trusted panels appointed by Members, an Appellate Body steeped in trade expertise, reverse consensus on key decisions etc. But it departs from and improves on those aspects that have not worked such as only one term for AB members, no single Member State can block the appointment of AB, and has fixed the conflict of “sequencing” that is a feature of the WTO system.
Note to editors
The AfCFTA Secretariat is an independent organ of the African Union System in charge of the negotiations and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Trading under the AfCFTA started in earnest on 1st January 2021, following a five-and-half-year period since negotiations were launched on 15th June 2015. Tough negotiations were followed by the signing of the Agreement on 21st March 2018, entry into force on 30th May 2019 and start of trading on 1st January 2021.
While it is inspired by the functioning aspects of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, it departs from and improves other aspects of it. The AfCFTA Dispute Settlement Body Protocol has been carefully negotiated by member states, following comprehensive consultations to ensure a full engagement on its implementation.
Join the conversation @AfCFTA, #OneAfricanMarket
Journalists are invited to a Press Conference to be held at the Secretariat and online After the closing ceremony,
Register here: https://bit.ly/3tBQmGo
For more media inquiries please contact:
please contact: Grace Khoza , (Grace.Khoza@au-afcfta.org)
Ms. Faith Adhiambo, African Union / firstname.lastname@example.org