The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mr Wamkele Mene, has indicated that the Phase II of the African Integration project, which covers a fully-developed Investment Protocol, will take off “hopefully” by December 2021.
“Phase I of the AfCFTA aims to reduce significantly, tariffs and non-tariff barriers to goods and advance in the liberalisation of trade in services. Phase II, involves agreements on investment, competition policy and intellectual property (IP) rights, while Phase III will involve provisions on e-commerce. On the basis of the timetable set by the African Union for Phase II negotiations, we can hope to see a fully developed Investment Protocol by December 2021,” Mr Mene indicated at a forum organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) on ‘the Role of Ghana’s Diaspora in harnessing investment opportunities by the AfCFTA’ on Thursday, 24 June 2021.
He added that the AfCFTA investment rules will likely include substantive investment protections and a separate set of rules for the resolution of investment disputes although the preexisting Protocol on Trade in Services has provisions regarding investment with an objective to “foster domestic and foreign investment”.
The Secretary-General also noted that the AfCFTA phase II will enhance the value proposition for investment by reducing risk including a protocol for the resolution of investor-state disputes which will make investment in Africa less risky for the investors and for African countries.
Mr Mene further explained that “the negotiation and effective implementation of the phase II protocol on intellectual property rights (IPRs), under the AfCFTA, will create a strong enabling environment for IP creation, protection, administration and enforcement which will stimulate innovation and competitiveness of the business sector. IPRs provide incentives to inventors to develop new knowledge and the right to obtain a patent for an invention, for example, encourages the investment of money and effort in research and development”.