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Africa’s New Continent-Wide Free Trade Agreement Is Ambitious—and Potentially a Global Pacesetter

Harry G. Broadman

October 31, 2019

The continent’s turn toward open trade has great promise, especially when many of the world’s advanced countries are in retreat, Harry Broadman says

Earlier this year, 54 African nations signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)—an unprecedented move to unify the continent, increase intra-African trade flows and potentially generate a gain in economic welfare of between 2 percent and 4 percent. AfCFTA is an ambitious plan for a continent that’s home to some of the world’s worst poverty and scars from centuries of colonialism. Additionally, it’s a move toward free trade at a time when protectionism scores victories in other parts of the world, especially, of all places, the advanced countries.

Harry Broadman, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, weighed in on misperceptions about investment risks and opportunities in Africa, why trade liberalization is catching on there and what needs to happen to make AfCFTA meet its goals. Broadman is former chief of staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and US Assistant Trade Representative, where he was one of the lead negotiators for the establishment of the WTO and NAFTA, led negotiations for US bilateral investment treaties and served as a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

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