Designing the Partnership with Africa
May 6, 2020
Twenty years of trying (and failing) to reset relations
May 6, 2020
A new framework for investment and trade through a Partnership with Africa

The event on 6 May 2019 took place against the backdrop of on-going negotiations on the ACP-Cotonou Agreement and the future AfCTA.

The meeting highlighted that there is an enormous potential to be unlocked by a new partnership, given that Africa will account for 20% of the world’s population by 2050, and 80% of its workers are now still in the informal sectors. However, the discussion showed that crucial changes need to me made to boost trade and investment, such as :

  • Focusing more on priorities set by and for Africans, such industrial development and infrastructure, not on the views of external parties;
  • Merging existing cooperation pathways, such as JAES and ACP, into the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA);
  • Broadening talks to include intellectual property, competition, investment, migration, security and development co-operation;
  • Allow for an ‘asymmetric liberalisation’ of markets, which is limited in scope and time;
  • Training African SMEs to unlock the potential of technology and e-commerce;
  • Focusing the AfCFTA on developing value-added products rather than extractive exports;
  • Overcoming the challenge of regional and continental integration with cohesion funds;
  • Increasing African import of intermediates and promoting greater GVC participation;
  • Fostering the research-innovation process by designing an African research policy;
  • Improve the dialogue with business and civic society.

The meeting, organised jointly with the High Level Group on (EU) Trade Policy Innovation, is part of on ongoing process initiated by both parties to discuss and develop proposals to fundamentally re-design the existing African-European relationship, still based partly on colonial trade patterns, and to move together towards innovation and common market.

Stefan Schepers    

Director of African-European Centre for Investment and Trade