The Nigerian Manufacturers` Association (MAN) commended the Nigerian government for not signing the framework protocol, as the proposed agreement is vague in terms of market access and the application of rules of origin. Removing import duties could potentially boost intra-African trade by more than 50%, while a reduction in non-tariff barriers will double the volume of trade, notes the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). In order to facilitate the implementation of the free trade area, the following institutions have been set up. As a result of the Phase II negotiations, additional committees may be set up through minutes.  The SAfCFTA secretariat is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and is an autonomous body within the AU system. Although it has an independent legal personality, it will work closely with the AU Commission and receive its AU budget. The Council of Ministers responsible for trade will decide on the headquarters, structure, role and responsibilities.  The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the highest decision-making body. It will probably meet during the AU summit.  The Council of Trade Ministers provides strategic trade oversight and ensures the effective implementation and implementation of the AfCFTA agreement.  The Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) will create the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries.
The pact connects 1.3 billion people in 55 countries for a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on the introduction of meaningful political reforms and trade facilitation. “This is essential, because services account for about 60% of Africa`s GDP and, for example, in 2014, services accounted for 30% of world trade…. Markets for national services will be open to service providers from other African countries,” Muchanga said. AfCFTA is expected to increase intra-African trade from about 13% currently to 25% or more through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalization. This approach is supported by the single market for air transport in Africa and the protocol on the free movement of persons. The various protocols are negotiated in two phases (see figure below). Phase 1 focused on three protocols: the movement of goods and its 9 annexes, trade in services with its three annexes and dispute resolution. Phase 2 negotiations will focus on competition protocols, intellectual property rights and investments.
Negotiations are under way with the African parties (Member States or REC) on Phase I protocols on trade in goods and services. Negotiations on Phase I protocols on competition, intellectual property rights and investments are expected to begin at the end of 2019. Given that the Nigerian government continued to consult with local business groups in the second half of 2018, one of the main concerns was whether the agreement adequately prevented anti-competitive practices such as dumping.  At the close of 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said the delay was “regrettable” and stressed the lack of trade in goods between African countries, the difficulties in getting from one African country to another, and the colonial legacy of these restrictions on Africa`s growth.  The government steering committee responsible for the consultation process is expected to release its report on the agreement in January 2019.  In order to ensure effective implementation, the AU will establish an AfCFTA secretariat, consisting of an African Economic Council, a trade observatory and a dispute resolution body. Although Africa`s average growth is 3.6% in 2019/20 and the world`s fastest growing economies are on the continent, much remains to be done.