Cooperation with countries in Africa Strengthening trade with and in Africa

The cost of trade in Africa is often very high, many markets are small, and many countries do not yet comply with WTO standards. That is why the BMZ is supporting its partner countries in building a quality assurance infrastructure to ensure that African goods meet the standards of their target markets.

An employee checks Tetrapaks with fruit juice at a beverage producer in Kenya.

An employee checks Tetrapaks with fruit juice at a beverage producer in Kenya.

An employee checks Tetrapaks with fruit juice at a beverage producer in Kenya.

Moreover, it is also working with its partners to boost environmental, health and occupational safety standards. And, as a member of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, Germany is helping to strengthen customs systems, for instance. This creates greater security for companies in cross-border trade.

The EU has entered into Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with numerous African countries, granting them duty-free and quota-free access to the European market on a long-term basis. At the same time, however, the African countries are permitted to exempt their more vulnerable sectors (around 20 to 25 per cent of their markets) from open trading, and even to protect their domestic markets from competition from Europe by applying market protection clauses. The opening of these countries' other sectors (which tend to account for 75 to 80 per cent of their markets) is accomplished gradually over an extended period of time.

The agreement concluded with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is already in effect on an interim basis – as are interim EPAs with a vanguard group of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and Central Africa (CEMAC). These interim EPAs are also open to other countries from these regional groupings.

On top of that, the BMZ is also supporting the establishment of a pan-African free trade zone, known as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and has been supporting the relevant negotiations since 2016 by providing trade-related technical assistance. The goal is to boost trade within the continent of Africa.

The AfCFTA agreement (External link) is a modern treaty based on partnership which, however, requires its signatories to meet stringent conditions. Furthermore, by also covering trade in services, the terms of the agreement go well beyond those of ordinary trading agreements, which tend to cover trade in goods only. The free trade agreement has already been ratified by 18 countries, including Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, which are working with Germany as reform partners. A further nine countries have deposited instruments of ratification with the African Union.