Legal and Regulatory Framework - UNECA

Legal and Regulatory Framework - UNECA

Information dated: 2017
Trade negotiations

An objective of ECA's capacity development strategy is to assist Member States in the development of common positions towards international negotiations as well as in enhancing the skills of African negotiators to get optimal deals for their countries and region from bilateral and international negotiations that strengthen the process of African economic integration.

ECA organizes workshops for Member States on how to best protect their national interests from being undermined through international agreements. The workshops create opportunities for lead national negotiators from all African countries to convene and exchange experiences, explore options and strategies for possible coordination of positions, and listen to and interact with global thinkers and practitioners in the field of economic negotiations in general and the four specific sectors (trade, investment, trade and natural resources) in particular.

Support to the process of CFTA negotiations

The CFTA Road Map has 2017 as the provisional time frame to conclude negotiations. At the AU Summit in January 2012, African leaders adopted the decisions on “Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT)” and “the establishment of the CFTA”. The Decisions on the BIAT and the CFTA were taken against the backdrop of concerns over the poor trade performance within the continent and the urgent need to develop modalities to fast-track the creation of a free-trade area.

As a member of the Continental Task Force on the Continental Free Trade Area, ECA is providing support to the African Union Commission in its support for the CFTA negotiations. This has included providing technical inputs to the template text for the CFTA Agreement as well as the draft modalities for the consideration of member States to enable them to consult national stakeholders and inform the work of the Negotiating Forum on the Continental Free Trade Area. ECA has also been working on explanatory notes to accompany the template text and modalities. ECA will remain on-hand to help to explain the thinking behind these inputs and to assist with capacity-building support to individual African countries and RECs upon request, and to the negotiating forum overall in collaboration with the African Union Commission. ECA is currently building the capacity of the Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States to support its member States in the negotiations for the African Continental Free Trade Area. This includes an upcoming workshop for CFTA negotiators on cross-cutting and social issues for the CFTA, to be provided in collaboration with Regions Refocus and a Conference of African Chambers of Commerce on the CFTA, to be provided in collaboration with the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, regional business associations and national chambers of commerce. It also includes the forthcoming publication Assessing Regional Integration in Africa 8: Bringing the CFTA About which will focus on policy advice as to how to ensure that the CFTA is implemented and how African countries can make the most of it.

In collaboration with the African Union Commission and the Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL) at Carleton University, ECA is also conducting research to which will build African countries’ capacity to negotiate the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union.

ECA stands ready to provide analytical support to African negotiators at the World Trade Organization on the issues being discussed.

Model law on infrastructure financing

Investment in infrastructure is a requirement to increase competitiveness of industry, boost trade and enhance regional integration and inclusiveness in Africa. Closing the infrastructure deficit of the continent in the areas of energy, roads and transportation, ICT and trans-boundary water networks facilitate African aspiration to reach the targets set in the AU Agenda 2063, Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and Dakar Financing Summit (DFS).

To accelerate private sector financing and enhance domestic resource mobilization of the PIDA and other transboundary projects, including DFS 16, the African Union Assembly requested ECA and NEPAD Agency to propose a continental framework to enhance private sector investment in transboundary infrastructure. The framework is a model law which will be considered for approval during the July 2017 African Union Summit by Heads of State. In the context of ECA's Project 16-16-16, the model law will be rolled out in a minimum of 16 African countries who are the owners/beneficiaries of the 16 DFS projects. The roll-out builds on the ongoing work of NEPAD-PIDA Consultants stationed at the RECs and involves steps including capacity development in de-risking strategies and broad-based advocacy to enhance and deepen project ownership and support across beneficiary countries.


ECA trains officials from African Member States on how to formulate suitable evidence-based trade policies as countries seek to structurally transform their economies. This includes IDEP providing courses for African officials, such as short trainings on international trade negotiations, international trade policy for national and regional development, regional integration and trade, as well as a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in Industrial Policy in partnership with the University of Johannesburg. ATPC and IDEP also jointly deliver basic, intermediate and advanced trainings on trade policy analysis using CGE.

With funding from the United Nations Development Account, ECA has also organized in collaboration with ESCAP, ECLAC and UNCTAD, a number of capacity building events at national, regional, continental and global levels on Enhancing the contribution of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) to inclusive and equitable trade, for member States, RECs, private sector, academics and civil society.

ECA is also working with ECLAC, UN-DESA, UNCTAD and UNODC on research to support African countries’ capacity to change their legal and regulatory frameworks on trade to protect against illicit financial flows through trade mis-invoicing or transfer pricing abuses.