Onwards and upwards.

Author:Gonzalez, Arancha

The phenomenon of 'Africa rising' has been cited so often in the past few decades that it risks becoming a bit of a cliche. But the reality shows there is justification for this continued optimism. In July 2019 leaders of African Union nations took a decisive step toward realizing their economic aspirations with the formal launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

In this special double issue of Trade Forum we turn the spotlight on what this exciting development will mean for the people of the continent. The scene is set by Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, Under SecretaryGeneral and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, who highlights how the AfCFTA has been crafted to dovetail with existing multilateral plans for Africa. Now that the AfCFTA has moved into its operational phase, David Luke, coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, guides us through some of the next steps now underway. A key theme will be the negotiations on trade in services and for an overview of this we have Anesu Gamanya from Geneva's Graduate Institute and Richard Adu-Gyamfl of the International Trade Centre (ITC), as well as the chief economist of the World Trade Organization, Robert Koopman.

Can it be assumed that Africa's new era of open trade will make it an attractive destination for private-sector investment? Partly, argues Kaled Sherif of the African Development Bank, but to maximize the opportunities African governments must also improve domestic economic governance and regulation. From the private sector side of the fence, Farid Fezoua, chief executive of General Electric Africa, looks at the...

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