The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) has started rolling out tools for monitoring the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through a Country Business Index.
The tool- which was revealed last month at a business forum on the eve of the signing of the historic Pan African agreement in Kigali, Rwanda – has now started being evaluated by countries across Africa.
The AfCFTA Country Business Index tool is benchmarking countries in four areas: AfCFTA implementation; ease of trade; trade for development, the SDGs and Agenda 2063 ; and AfCFTA Impact.
The AfCFTA agreement which has since been ratified by Kenyan and Rwandan parliaments is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people and that commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods and to liberalize services.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) developed the index with the aim of measuring AfCFTA impact in a way that generates value for private sector operators. The Executive Secretary of ECA, Ms Vera Songwe explained that the AfCFTA Country Business Index aggregates the opinions of businesses in Africa and articulates them in a way that ranks countries on how well they are implementing the free trade area.
“In 2025, if we do well, and if we make the continental free trade will work, the African market will be a $3.6 trillion market,” affirmed Songwe. “This is not insignificant for business”,
Presenting additional details on the Index during the launch, David Luke, Coordinator of ATPC stressed that the AfCFTA Country Business Index is a tool for listening to business on the actual effect the regional trade has on the business environment and challenges countries to make improvements.
“It will be based on periodic surveys of the private sector at different levels, from informal cross border traders to corporates. This will be complemented with additional analysis of public data, including tariff schedules and trade volumes”, he said.