The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has established and operaionalised a Dispute Settlement Body under the dispute settlement protocol.
The AfCFTA Dispute Settlement Body Protocol has been carefully negotiated by member states, following comprehensive consultations to ensure a full engagement on its implementation.
The Body is composed of representatives of all State Parties and monitors and evaluates the functions of the dispute settlement mechanism.
It is to be fast, efficient, rules-based, and transparent.
Mr Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, announced this at the quarterly press briefing on AfCFTA and its achievements, Status of Implementation, and the next steps in Accra, on Friday.
The press briefing was to also enhance the public’s understanding of the Agreement’s mandate-the advocacy role – to communicate on AfCFTA’s status report; policies, outcomes on strategic meetings, missions achievement, and strategic bilateral outcomes.
It is also to provide a platform of engagement between AfCFTA and the media and to build a sustainable and visible brand presence of AfCFTA in the public.
He said currently, they were piloting the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) in six West African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia, and Sierra Leone.
The PAPSS is a centralised payment and settlement infrastructure for intra-African trade and commerce payments.
The platform, which is being developed in collaboration with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) would facilitate payments as well as formalise some of the unrecorded trade due to the prevalence of informal cross-border trade in Africa.
He said the system was to reduce the reliance on foreign exchange while trading under the agreement and expressed the hope that PAPSS would be ready by the end of 2021 to facilitate trade among countries.
It would also provide an alternative to current high-cost and lengthy correspondent banking relationships to facilitate trade and other economic activities among African countries through a simple, low-cost, and risk-controlled payment clearing and settlement system.
The benefits of PAPPS for cross-border payments include cost reduction; reduction in duration and time variability; decreasing liquidity requirements of commercial banks; decreasing liquidity requirements of central banks for settlement as well as its payments; and strengthening Central Banks’ oversight of cross border payment systems.
The Secretary-General said they were in the final stages and preparations to launch the AfCFTA adjustment facility to mitigate the possible negative impact on revenue resulting from the implementation of the Agreement.
“All the implementation and negotiations institutions structures have been established per the agreement including the standing committee for phase two matters,” he added.
He said the AfCFTA Secretariat had an advocacy and stakeholder engagement programme and Missions to Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania, DRC, and Angola to enhance the relationship between the Secretariat and Heads of States, Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers.
Mr Mene said the Missions would also engage respective stakeholders to advocate and educate on the AfCFTA Agreement and engage all whilst using the opportunity to create platforms of communication with youth and women stakeholders and position the brand.
He said the number of ratified countries had increased to 40 with the recent ratification coming from Zambia, Malawi, Algeria, and Burundi.