BIEA Annual UK Lecture: What Impacts does Brexit have on Regional Integration in Africa?
Professor Yanking Ngangjoh Hodu
Nov 23rd, 2017
6:00 pm, British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London
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What are the challenges and opportunities available to African countries as a consequence of Brexit? The unexpected outcome of Britain’s referendum on European Union membership and exit of its second largest member has worldwide impact. In view of many existing trade relationships held between the EU and different African countries or regions, such as Economic Partnership Agreements, Euro-Mediterranean FTA, South Africa – EU Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement, how should Africa respond to the departure of the UK from the EU?
Regional economic communities became normative features of the global economy in recent decades. African development and integration are planned for the future through these models of economic cooperation and free trade towards shared goals of industrialization and integration on the continent. As part of African Union’s Agenda 2063 to become an industrialised and integrated continent, in February 2017, the 54 African countries started negotiating a Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). If successful, the CFTA will be the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world by the number of participants. Consistent with the negotiation framework, a CFTA should be in place by end of 2017. This is indeed an ambitious target especially as the existing multiple, sub-regional economic communities are yet to completely harmonise their policies as agreed in the integration Roadmap in the Abuja Treaty. A CFTA will be a great milestone for a continent that has probably the highest number of regional integration initiatives in the world.
While the number of fragmented regional initiatives in Africa can be seen as contributing to the development of international law, the high reliance of the continent on its trade and investment with the European Union and other external partners means that any change in the EU requires adaptation and alteration of approach to its external trading regime and its overall international relations with the EU. The question right now remains: How will Brexit impact upon Africa’s regional integration?