Over the years, economist experts have observed that liberalisation of trade among countries is beneficial to all countries involved. This have led to the creation of various policies and agreement among countries such as the EFTA (European free trade area), NAFTA, Pacific Alliance et al.
On this note, 54 member state of the Africa Union agreed to establish a free trade area among African countries by 2017. However, Africa is a continent with peculiar problems that must first be attended to.
To begin with, liberalisation if trade among African countries will heighten the pace of economic development in that there will be reduction of tariff and quotas which will successfully reduce import price and consumer price. Such huge advantage but the underlying question remains “Is it viable”
First, should the policy be implemented, the largest growth rate will be experienced in the manufacturing industry followed by the service sector and the agricultural subsectors. At this juncture, it is pertinent to know that 50% of Africa cumulative GDP is contributed by Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa… This invariably means the above countries will be the biggest beneficiary of the free trade policy. Why should others join…?
Maybe it’s obscured to others but most African market are traditional economies that rely on farming for employment; their service and manufacturing sector is below par and with the introduction of trade agreement, their SMEs will be choked. Judging by the words of Kituyi (2016) regarding free trade in Africa, he said “… small economies and LDCs may face substantial fiscal revenue loss and threat to local industries.”
Not just this, there is the presence of red tapism and insufficient infrastructural facilities across many African countries; laws guarding against intellectual theft such as patent and copyright are also laxly enforced. All these are insidious to free trade. So, just before expounding the benefits of free trade in Africa, these peculiar bottlenecks should first be looked into and then; Africa free trade policy becomes viable not just in paper but practicality with the capacity to transcend every African citizen to a higher standard of living.