Does the US support the AfCFTA?

As the Biden administration promises to redefine relations with Africa, Washington's support for the AfCFTA comes into question.


Almost two years since trading commenced under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), signed by 44 of the African Union’s 55 member states, the United States’ commitment to the project is being questioned.

With crucial negotiations for the trade area’s implementation still underway, the US insisted in its August US Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa document that it “will support the AfCFTA’s implementation.”

But while the US has provided technical support in the form of workshops and programs, for example on digital trade negotiations and policy frameworks, there’s no evidence of US funding for activities specifically supporting the AfCFTA’s development and implementation, according to an August report by the Congressional Research Service.

“The US has provided technical support for the AfCFTA under both the Trump and Biden Administrations, but there appears to be no current comprehensive source of data on funding for US activities specifically in support of AfCFTA’s development and implementation,” the policy paper says.

By contrast the EU is a major donor to the initiative, providing approximately $79.9m from 2014-2020, with further assistance ongoing, according to a factsheet on ‘Ongoing EU Support’ for the Africa-EU Partnership and AfCFTA. The EU has also helped facilitate the AfCFTA negotiation process, country ratifications, tariff classification, the development of national implementation strategies and policy frameworks such as intellectual property rights.

The UK meanwhile has also pledged around $45.5m between 2021 and 2026 to support the implementation and intra-regional trade and investment, while Germany provided $37.3m between mid-2020 and mid-2024, as well as assistance with AfCFTA negotiation preparation, implementation, policy research, advice, and stakeholder outreach and training.

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