Institute for African Security Studies: Free trade and smooth movement of people are important factors for the well-being of the continent

The Institute for Security Studies, which is based in South Africa, has confirmed that regional integration is the key to Africa’s prosperity and progress. The establishment of a continental economic community that guarantees free circulation of goods and services and the movement of individuals will help to meet the development challenges of the continent and thus achieve the aspirations and hopes of Vision 2063 of the Union. Therefore, it can be said that freedom of movement leads down a parallel path to trade.

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In a report, the institute indicated that Africa is in urgent need of policies, systems and practices aimed at reducing restrictions on freedom of movement, encouraging regional trade and developing joint strategies, at a time when Africa is path is to attain freedom. trade, adding that freedom of movement for individuals is still late.

He added that in 2018 the leaders of the African Union countries adopted two complementary instruments, the first is the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, and the second is the protocol following the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community on the freedom of movement of individuals, the right of residence, and the right of establishment.

Many progressive continental policies give strong support to the goals behind these instruments, including the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, the Single African Air Transport Market and the African Union Border Management Strategy, according to the report by the Institute for African Security Studies.

The African Union hopes that by 2023 individuals will be able to move freely between member states, for example by abolishing entry visas for inter-African travel, and next year has been set as a target to complete the first two phases of the African Free. Trade agreement.

The report indicated that although there is a full understanding that these elements go together, the pace of ratification and implementation of these instruments is still inconsistent.
Estimates from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) confirm that exports among African countries have stalled at 14.4% by the end of 2021, and both UNCTAD and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa believe that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will bring about a dramatic change, as The committee expects that the agreement could increase the rate of exports by 3%; This increases the value of intra-African trade to between 15% and 25%, or from 50 to 70 billion dollars by 2040.

The report emphasized that these statistics do not include informal cross-border trade, which is widespread in Africa. For fragile and conflict-affected countries, this matter is of great importance, as official trade channels can be negatively affected, especially in light of the reality that confirms Informal trade offers traders a market outside the faltering and inefficient internal market.

He pointed out that migration also plays a decisive role in the regional integration of Africa through its contribution to economic and social development in both the countries of origin and the countries of destination, as studies show that bilateral trade between countries increases as a result of the presence of migrant workers in a country.

Therefore, it can be said that the establishment of bridges of communication in the field of capital investment, charity work, knowledge transfer and the business community are matters of great importance, and migrant labor represents an essential resource in this regard.

According to the Institute for Security Studies report, organized migration can also contribute to the development of host countries by providing them with expertise and knowledge, in addition to the services those countries need, which are provided by skilled and unskilled labor.

Although the positive impact of migration and trade trends tend to favor the host countries, the imbalance in the trade balance of the countries of origin can be corrected through remittances and direct investment.

Another dimension is that, in terms of the FTA, African countries must give each other progressive and better access to services within their markets. , transport, tourism and business services, and during the month of September 43 countries submitted initial offers for these commercial services.

The Institute for Security Studies believes that Africa is on the right track to achieve this essential element of that process, namely the provision of services related to commercial activities, and notes that the mechanism of the political framework for migration of the African union also as the common African point of view on development, shows that Africa can make progress in the field of economic development through better governance and management of the issue of migration, and that the member states of the Union as well as the local economic communities can formulate policies to exploit. migration to achieve development.

He emphasized that although the Freedom of Movement Protocol is a continental agreement, its management and effective implementation is a national and regional matter, and several African countries have already participated in declarations on the issue of freedom of movement through the regional economic groups and are also at the same time aware of the responsibility that it entails That this agreement is translated to take into account the internal reality of countries and long-term strategies for Africa and place them in the right context.

This includes the manner in which this agreement is implemented and to what extent it can serve to establish a resilient model for Africa in terms of movement and support the transition to a concept beyond the borders of the countries of the continent.

According to the report, these means extend to providing a policy unit framework for the digitization of civil records; It therefore helps to achieve long-term ambitions to transform Africa entirely into a great homeland, but the steps in the ratification and implementation of this protocol are still slow, and slower than the steps in the implementation of the free trade agreement.

African countries are still reluctant to agree to the freedom of movement protocol compared to the free trade agreement for four reasons, according to the Institute for Security Studies report, the first of which is fears of migration in large numbers from less developed countries to more developed countries. or middle-income people, but this matter should not Attention is diverted from the gains achieved by migration to host countries and how it provides job opportunities to migrants for a better life There is no doubt that the gradual development of the money and labor market – and immigration policies that support the integration of migrants are essential for African countries.

As for the second reason, it is that some countries have concerns about their sovereignty or that undocumented immigrants and also freedom of movement may bring with them destabilization of internal security, and while some of these concerns are unfounded, they should not be overlooked is when it is implemented. the free trade agreement.

And the third reason is that in light of the damage that the Corona virus has caused to the economies of countries, calls to prefer the country’s citizen over the immigrant have gained great momentum, and at a time when the free trade agreement economic recovering from the effects of the virus and rebuilding Africa’s resilience in the face of crises, the protocol is still Freedom of movement is an obstacle.

As for the fourth reason, it is that countries are encouraged to be lax on border regulation and control without strong border protection structures Development of the necessary infrastructure to ensure that member countries receive an equal amount of gains from the Free Trade Agreement and from the Protocol is very important , as violent extremism and human trafficking People and money laundering are risks for many countries.

The Institute for Security Studies believes that freedom of movement without regulatory measures to mitigate risks is more of a challenge than an opportunity, and the design of an active digital identity system that allows countries to track the movements of individuals in a highly efficient manner to trace is essential.

He emphasized that the Free Trade Agreement and the Protocol on Freedom of Movement represent a path with great potential for long-term development, and the commitment to implement these two frameworks in parallel will bring economic returns and development gains for Africa.

He warned that the current dissonance between the adoption of these two instruments is a symptom of the disease the continent is constantly suffering from, which is the crisis of policy development and implementation.

The institute concluded its report that African countries must mobilize their efforts on both fronts, including accelerating the ratification of the movement system regulations and the implementation of the policies and protocols of the African Union and the regional economic community, stressing that the freedom of movement protocol is a good start for that.

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