Efforts Towards building an AfCFTA Policy Review Mechanism (AfPRM) for the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat


Abuja, 08-11 May 2023 - The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) represented by Mr. Jean Yves Adou, acting Director Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and Mr. Peter Katwesige, participated in the fourth consultative meeting on the AfCFTA Policy Review Mechanism that was convened in Abuja, Nigeria, by the AfCFTA Secretariat, in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in a hybrid format.  The overall objective of the meeting was to share multilateral and regional experiences on the Policy Review Mechanisms to ultimately inform the development of an AfCFTA Review Mechanism.

In attendance was the following AfCFTA State Parties: Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, the Gambia Guinea Bissau, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Also represented at the Meeting were Regional Economic Communities (REC) such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other multilateral institutions including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat; the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); and the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) Partners

During the opening statement, the APRM emphasized that the two institutions share common aspirations deeply rooted in Africa’s quest for socio-economic transformation. It was emphasized that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by APRM and AfCFTA to strengthen their cooperation. The key components of the MoU include supporting the AfCFTA Secretariat in developing an M&E Trade Policy Review Mechanism and tools to assess AfCFTA implementation among State Parties.

The APRM stated that an African-led and owned trade policy review mechanism will advance transparency and implementation effectiveness. It was also highlighted that experiences of the APRM and other Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) show that the purpose of the review exercise is to encourage experience sharing, lesson learning, positive encouragement, peer pressure, and moral suasion.

During the meeting, the APRM made a Presentation under the theme: APRM Processes, methodology and tools: a take for the AfPRM. The presentation outlined the institutional structures of the APRM at the continental and national level it detailed how these structures play a vital role in the APRM review process. It offered a snapshot of the key tools that the APRM relies on while conducting the review process and presented the monitoring mechanism available for State Parties to report back on the progress registered during the implementation of the recommendations embedded in the review reports.

The APRM concluded by highlighting the fact that the APRM National Plan of Action forms a key ingredient upon which reviewed countries submit progress reports on the status of implementation of the recommendations embedded with the report and this offers a clear follow-up mechanism within the APRM and highly recommended for consideration while building the AfPRM.  After the two consultative meetings, in Arusha and Abuja, it was agreed that the AfCFTA secretariat consolidates all the outcomes and submits them to its institutional structures, namely the senior trade officers (STOs) and Council of Ministers (COM).