Policy Advice for AfCFTA Negotiations in Tunisia

The Project at A Glance

Tunisia is accelerating its efforts to further develop its trade with sub-Saharan Africa. It joined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in July 2018 and completed the implementation process of the COMESA Free Trade Agreement in March 2020. At the same time, Tunisia also gained observer status in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in June 2017. In November 2018, it equally signed a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at setting up a roadmap in anticipation of the creation of a free trade area between the two parties.
At the time, Tunisia had also expressed its intention to sign the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA entered into force in May 2019 and is considered the largest free trade area in the world, bringing together 54 of the 55 African countries. It has a combined GDP of over $2.5 trillion and a population of 1.2 billion, which is expected to double and become home to 26% of the world’s working-age population by 2050.
International Economics Consulting Ltd. (IEC) contributed to building the capacity of the Government of Tunisia to negotiate trade agreements by preparing a handbook of good practices in negotiation techniques for regional trade agreements in the African context and developing an E-learning manual to help relevant staff understand the processes and progress of AfCFTA negotiations.

Our Strategy and Impact

The objective of the technical assistance provided by IEC was to strengthen the capacity of the Tunisian State to negotiate trade agreements in the African context, by implementing two activities. More concretely, the project aimed to:

  • Improve the understanding of state actors with aspects related to the negotiations of regional trade agreements, such as the processes involved and the progress of the negotiations in the context of the AfCFTA.
  • Combine theoretical explanations with examples of practices. The handbook addressed the realities of economic and commercial diplomacy in Africa and provided further information on negotiation topics pertaining to the AfCFTA.
  • Provide an overview/introduction to the negotiation of a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) in the African context.
    The training material for the online course was developed following the approval of the GIZ / PEMA Tunisia and the Ministry of Commerce. The training focused on negotiation processes, especially the preparatory phase, and provided information on technical aspects relating to the liberalisation of goods and services. An overview of the context of negotiations in Africa (ambitions of countries, etc.) was also provided to beneficiaries in order to inform them of the state of progress of the RECs in general. Participants included representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and other relevant ministries and stakeholders (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Finance, etc.), as well as the private sector and civil society.

Our Core Solutions

With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. We prepare clients to navigate trade and investment negotiations and advocate for their best interests. We also provide customised advocacy solutions for sustainable growth. From determining our clients’ specific requirements and interests to designing an effective strategy, we represent and advocate for our clients in various trade-related matters and facilitate coordination between different organisations.

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