• NIALS Deserves Accolades for Championing Introduction of African Model of Int’l Economic Law – Asante, President of ECOWAS Court of Justice

• AFCFTA to Build a Single Integrated African Market of 1 billion People – Prof Ladan, DG NIALS

By Waziri Isa Adam

The President of Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Hon Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has commended the Professor Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan – led Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) for championing the introduction of African Model of International Economic Law.

The President gave the commendation yesterday in Abuja while declaring open a One Day International Seminar (Hybrid) on the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) as a model of African Economic Law, and the unveiling of the Maiden Edition of the West African Yearbook on International Economic Law and Practice in West Africa.

Hon Justice Asante also commended NIALS for its sagacity in identifying and assembling eminent and distinguished experts and practitioners on matters relating to Trade, Investment, Dispute-settlement, Intellectual Property rights, and Economic Integration Law and Practice in Africa to share their rare and highly valued experiences with participants, policy and decision makers, as well as researchers at the Seminar.

Justice Asante revealed that 2023 has been dubbed by the African Union (AU) as the year of AFCFTA accelerated implementation that will increase Intra-African trade, designed to translate obligations and commitments into practical implementation.

President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante

Stressing the objectives of the seminar, Justice Asante said one of its objectives is to sensitize, engage and introduce stakeholders and the general public to the unique African Model of International Economic Law by examining national and regional implementation approaches and strategies across Africa.

He said other objectives include exploration of practical solutions to the implementaion of the AFCFTA agreement in selected countries by identifying practical solutions to challenges, including those applicable to treaty implementation, tax implementation, infrastructure deficit, and identify potential ideas for improvement to ensure compliance with the international obligations assumed under the AFCFTA Agreement.

Other objective, according to Justice Asante, is analysis of the implications of strategies and challenges on national implementation of the AFCFTA Agreement, including complex issues such as the legal and institutional framework for implementation, given the critical role that the agreement expects the national implementation body to play, and how to address some practical challenges such as infrastructure deficit, inclusivity and access to finance as they impact the ability to increase productive capacity.

Justice Asante thanked Prof. Ladan, who he described as a distinguished legal scholar, and the head of the apex legal research and capacity building institution for the justice sector and legal education in Nigeria for ensuring his participation as a special guest of honour.

Director General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof MT Ladan

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director General of Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan, said one of the objectives of the seminar was to stimulate discussions and promote research on the significance, benefits, operational, institutional and legal challenges, and implications of the AFCFTA Agreement and its 8 protocols (on trade in goods, Services, Dispute-settlement, Competition, Investment, Intellectual Property, Women and Youth in Trade and Digital Trade) on Regional Agenda and on national economies of the 47 state parties out of the 54 signatories of the Agreement.

Professor Ladan said the AfCFTA Agreement and its Phase 13 Protocols on Trade in Goods, Services, Dispute-settlement were adopted on 21 March 2018 and entered into force on 30 March 2019. The AU Assembly of Heads of States adopted in February 2023, the following 3 Protocols under Phase 2: – on Competition, Intellectual Property and Investment. The AfCFTA Guided Trade initiative was launched in October 2022. In February 2024, the AU Assembly adopted the 2 Protocols on Women and Youth in Trade, which will facilitate active participation of the most vulnerable group in the society – women and youths, and that of Digital Trade that seeks to ensure that the producers of digital content and other digital applications from the continent benefit from the AfCFTA.

He added that in July 2019, the launch of operational phase of AfCFTA was characterised by the adoption of five key instruments: – 1. The Rules of Origin; 2. The Tariff Concessions; 3. The Online mechanism on monitoring, reporting and elimination of non-tariff barriers; 4. The Pan-African payment and Settlement System; 5. and The African Trade Observatory or information portal.

President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon Edward Amoako Asante and DG NIALS, Prof MT Ladan

“Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) begun in October 2022 for matchmaking businesses and products for exports and imports between 9(nine) State Parties (namely Ghana, Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritius, Tanzania and Tunisia) that have shown readiness and met the minimum requirements to start trading under the AfCFTA in Coordination with their national AfCFTA implementation committees. Goods currently traded under the GTI include ceramic tiles, tea, coffee, processed meat products, corn starch, sugar, pasta, dried fruit, Sisal fibre amongst others. The main objective of the GTI is to practically test the efficacy of trading under AfCFTA preferences and identify the operational, institutional and legal challenges in order to improve”, Professor Ladan added

He revealed that the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) was launched in Accra, Ghana (the host of the AfCFTA Secretariat) on 13 January 2021, and is currently being Piloted in the ECOWAS region.

He further disclosed that in February 2024, The AU Assembly congratulated South Africa for launching its first shipment under the AfCFTA regime on 31 January 2024 to Ghana and Kenya, while Nigeria was set to launch its first shipment on 30th April 2024 (yesterday) but was postponed on Friday 26 April, because Mr. President travelled out of the country for international engagements that coincided with the launching.

From left, President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon Justice Edward Amoako Asante, SA, to P-BAT, on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, DG NIALS, Prof MT Ladan, Amb Usman Sarki, & ES Nigeria NAC-AFCFTA, Mr Segun Awolowo

The Director General noted that on Trade in Goods, 42 provisional schedules of tariff concessions have been verified and they qualify to trade preferentially under the AfCFTA. And Rules of Origin negotiated stood at 88.3% convergence, pending issues are automotive and textile/Clothing, that are key sectors for Africa’s industrialisation.

On Trade in Services, 5 focused sectors out of 12 (for now AfCFTA State Parties have identified the following for immediate liberalization: – business or professional services, Communication, financial, tourism and travel and transport services. 46 Provisional Schedules of Tariff Concessions have been received including from 4 Customs Unions: – of Eastern African Community (EAC), ECOWAS, Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Economic and Monetary Union of Central African States (CEMAC) and 36 of these offers have been technically verified.

Likewise, we welcome the adoption of the AU Ministerial Regulations on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) that aim at enabling goods and products produced within SEZs to be treated in accordance with the Rules of Origin provisions of The AfCFTA.

Professor Ladan also noted that the AfCFTA aims at building a single integrated African market of over one billion people with a combined GDP of approximately USD 3.3 trillion. It also aims at boosting cross-border trade and intra-African trade which currently stands at approximately low 16-18% and to increase Africa’s share of world trade which is estimated at only 3% (Comparatively very low). Hence we are dealing with a complex model of African Economic law in both theory and Practice, that requires our keen interest and attention as relevant equal stakeholders in the Africa We want of the Agenda 2063.

He advised that, “for AfCFTA Agreement to succeed, we must co nstantly monitor the performance of its building blocs, namely , the 8 Regional Economic Communities in Western, Southern, Eastern, Horn, Northern and Central Africa (ECOWAS, EAC, SADC, AMU, COMESA, IGAD, ECCAS, CEN-SAD). This is because the RECs are closer to the people and private sector in the national economies / State Parties than AfCFTA”.


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