Ministers of Justice and legal affairs from across the African continent are gathered in Kigali to review the legal correctness and fitness of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
The agreement is set to be signed next week at an extraordinary African Union Summit.
Part of the justice ministers’ mandate is to ensure that the draft which has been endorsed by trade technicians as well as ministers of trade is legally sound.
This is to make sure that following the signing and ratification of the draft, there will be not be legal issues among member countries hindering its implementation.
Yesterday was the first day of the ministerial sessions whereby talks went on late into the night.
Being a meeting of top legal minds from across the continent, the delegates during the talks get into long arguments over the interpretations and wording of clauses within the draft.
The New Times understands that at the moment, among the contentious issues include the status of the CFTA secretariat after the signing, modalities of entry into force of various protocols and handling reservations.
Speaking at the opening session, Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye said that though legislation in in most countries is largely protectionist, it should not hinder intra-Africa trade.
“Legislation in many of our jurisdictions is largely, and understandably so far, protectionist. But it is now known that this hinders intra-Africa trade, innovation and competitiveness. The benefits that accrue from an integrated Africa include among others elimination of discriminatory and protectionist practices, increase in comparative advantage, diversification and economies of scale and, hence, reduced costs of production,”
“Given what we now know there is every reason to think and act differently. As our countries’ legal advisors we are right at the nerve centre of this change,”Busingye said.
About 26 heads of states are are expected in Kigali next week for the signing of the agreement slated for the 21st of March.
The CFTA signing will be preceded by a business summit on 20th of March that will feature members of the private sector of the continent and top government officials including heads of states.
The ultimate aim of the agreement is to make Africa trade zone where goods and services can be traded with no restrictions among member states.