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AfCFTA: Border hurdles dampen free trade deal expectations

African traders and companies are facing challenges operating across the borders despite the opening up of a $1.2 billion market in January 2021.

The latest study by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on selected African countries shows that things are not working on the ground after the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement came into effect on January 1 last year.

The survey conducted in seven countries — Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa — shows companies have a neutral to slightly negative perception of the investing and trading environment across Africa.

The AfCFTA Country Business Index survey, which was launched in 2018, shows that the private sector has a negative perception of trade in goods, suggesting that more work needs to be done to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers.

According to the survey, firms in the sampled countries appear to have negative perceptions of unauthorised charges, customs procedures and additional fees.

“This result suggests that trade policy measures need to be implemented at the national and continental levels to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers. Such measures could be applied through the effective implementation of the Area in line with private-sector expectations,” the survey says.

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