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Proposed AfCFTA investment protocol should be simplified to attract foreign direct investment into Africa, says ECA’s Karingi

UNECA | 30 June 2021

Proposed AfCFTA investment protocol should be simplified to attract foreign direct investment into Africa, says ECA’s Karingi

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) today made a pre-launch presentation of a report which offers policy recommendations to member states wishing to take advantage of the economies of scope and scale of the envisioned AfCFTA Investment Protocol to attract investment.

The report, titled "Towards a Common Investment Area in the African Continental Free Trade Area: Levelling the Playing Field for Intra-African Investment "was presented by Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division of the ECA, at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) event “AFRICA Unlocked: Innovation & Sustainability as the Drivers of Economic Growth.”

The virtual event brought together African policymakers, national and regional investment promotion agencies (IPAs), the private sector, development partners and international NGOs to discuss the role of investment policies in supporting Africa’s economic recovery and its sustainable development.

“As Africa faces a steep decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities presented by a continental common investment area could hardly have arrived at a better time,” Mr. Karingi said.

He said amidst a sharp drop in global FDI due to COVID-19, Africa’s FDI inflows fell 18 percent from $46 billion in 2019 to $38 billion in 2020, a level not seen for at least a decade, and deeper than that in developing economies where they declined 12 percent.

To attract new FDI during the post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding stage, he said upcoming AfCFTA negotiations should serve as a platform to harmonize investment rules and create a level playing field for investors.

Mr. Karingi appealed to policymakers to “use the Investment Protocol to simplify current entanglement of investment rules and clarify linkages with other AfCFTA protocols, international law, and domestic legislations.’’

Negotiatons on the second and third phases of the AfCFTA agreement focusing on investment, intellectual property, competition, and e-commerce are expected to commence later this year.

The AfCFTA, the world’s largest free trade area, aims to form a single continent-wide market for goods and services, stimulating more trade and investment. The agreement is expected to expand intra-African trade, boost industrialization, increase job opportunities, and enhance the global competitiveness of African industries.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Karingi and featuring Joy Kategekwa of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Yunus Hoosen of InvestSA, and Roland van Wijnen of PPC Ltd.

The study was funded by Denmark’s Development Cooperation (DANIDA) as part of an agreement with the ECA to support the implementation of the AfCFTA.

 source: UNECA