The African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into effect on 1 January 2021 and from a population perspective represents the largest free trade area in the world. In the period leading up to the implementation, the trade union movement was not included in the relevant processes and negotiations. In any case, unions did not have a clear policy position, or baseline data to assist in developing influence over the development of the agreement. As a result, the AfCFTA policy document was developed without any inclusion or reference to labour and the Decent Work agenda.
The AfCFTA is perhaps the only free trade agreement in the world to come into effect before negotiations were complete. This represents an opportunity for trade unions to participate in future negotiations, policy development and implementation processes of the agreement, to advance work and workers’ rights on the continent.
The Labour Research Service is supporting the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) to mobilise research and learning capacity for the trade union movement in Africa to engage with and influence the implementation of the AfCFTA. To know more visit www.tradeunionsinafcfta.org