Negotiating the AfCFTA in the Shadow of International and Regional Struggle for Power: A Caution!

Document Type


Publication Date



Agreement for the Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Colonialism, Regional Trade Agreements, Regional Economic Integration, Trade in Goods and Services, Multilateral Trading Regimes, Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, Economic Cooperation


In this piece, I reflect on the contemporary international and regional struggle for power or influence and their potential implications for the Agreement for the Establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). At the international level, Africa continues to be a battlefield of the struggle for global power, most recently, among a triad of countries: China, Russia and the United States of America. Regionally, the negotiation and eventual implementation of the AfCFTA will be embedded in a complex socio-economic and political dynamic that dates back to colonialism. These dynamics and the paradigm of trade alliances that emerge from them are important factors that African leaders and policy experts involved in the negotiation of the AfCFTA must be proactive in addressing. In an era of increasing mega-regional trade agreements, the imminent completion of Phase I negotiations (involving issues such as trade in goods and services), and the anticipated commencement of Phase II Negotiations is a watershed for regional economic integration in Africa.