Is NAFTA a Roadmap for Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement?

The deadline to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is set for the end of March; but it is currently under renegotiation, with the U.S. and Canada making some of the biggest changes. The current administration has been skeptical of NAFTA’s economic benefit; with experts also disagreeing over how effective the agreement has been for the region.

Currently, Africa has begun its own endeavor toward a continental free trade agreement.  Initiated by the African Union in 2015, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) seeks to create a single marketplace for African goods and services.

While the US Chamber of Commerce hails NAFTA as a success, citing nearly $3 trillion in cumulative trade growth, other experts cite depressed production worker wages and middling results for Mexico and Canada.  Countries with higher wages and living standards often worry about job loss and wage stagnation; and less developed economies may fear fierce competition in some industries.  But perhaps NAFTA could be instructive as African states endeavor to create its own FTA.

Just recently Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari refrained from signing the CFTA.  As the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria could see economic strains from such an agreement.  The CFTA which spans all 54 states is set to be Launched March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.  The agreement will create a free trade zone connecting the nearly 3 trillion (cumulative) gross domestic product of 54 African states.  It appears, Nigeria, like Britain, has concerns about the long-term impact continental agreements like NAFTA and the European Union may have on its economy.

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