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What Lessons Might there be for African States from the UK’s Rollercoaster Brexit?

It is increasingly evident that leaving the European Union — the world’s richest single market — was a monumental act of self-harm for the UK. African countries should take heed and cooperate to ensure the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Coming into force in 2019, AfCFTA includes all African countries except Eritrea. Members have pledged to eliminate import tariffs on 97% of goods traded between African states by 2064. However, because of the pandemic, and an associated recession, it has made a slow start. In 2021, intra-African trade accounted for just 17% of African exports, which was low compared to 59% for Asia and 68% for Europe, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). AfCFTA, however, wants to do more than just boost trade in goods, and also cover services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. The decisions which Africa will make about its economic development will be critical to its own future and that of the world as a whole. Meanwhile, there is a stark message for Africa from Britain’s deepening Brexit plight. Don’t turn your backs on your neighbours for fool’s gold fantasies of trade deals with far-flung nations.