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The COVID-19 Pandemic and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Exploring Potential Impacts and Developmental Implications


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nontrivial disruptions to global value chains and affected the lives of many people, particularly the poor across the world. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early part of 2020 in Africa, happened during a time that African countries had just signed one of the world’s largest trade agreements and therefore began introducing continental-level structures to strengthen free trade among member states. This chapter examines the potential effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agenda for free trade in Africa, both in the short and in the long-term. Specifically, the chapter explores the trading environment of firms in Africa and highlights generally the challenges faced when implementing a trade agreement in the middle of a pandemic. It also, on the other hand, highlights how trade agreement in a middle of a pandemic can be a good thing to minimize the effect of the pandemic on poor and vulnerable households in Africa. The chapter ends by highlighting the need for managing the COVID-19 pandemic to grow and sustain intra-African trade.

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Photo credit: World Bank

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