(Ecofin Agency) - The Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Tunisia (ARP) has refuted, for lack of quorum, to adopt a draft organic law relating to the founding convention of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The adoption of this bill by Parliament was, however, necessary to complete the procedures for Tunisia's accession to the free trade zone, the convention of which was signed by the government since March 21, 2018.
This situation has prompted reactions from many people. “How can a country refuse to join the AfCFTA? It's like shooting ourselves in the foot, especially as our economy is in agony and depends on the European market for 84% of its trade. The whole world has understood that the future is in Africa, except for our MPs who think they know everything and make decisions without asking for advice from specialists,” said Tunisia-Africa Business Council’s (TABC) President Bassem Loukil on a Facebook post.
For his part, the former Tunisian Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Faouzi Ben Abderrahman, said he was deeply surprised by such a decision. “Like many others, I don't understand why this law was rejected, especially since it has not been debated in the economic and political arena. When all the party platforms talk about opening up to Africa […] Are we going to tell the world this law was rejected because our MPs were absent from the APR session? Or that our MPs did not understand the importance of this law?”
Effective since May 30, 2019, the African Continental Free Trade Area is set to be a market of 1.2 billion people with a GDP of $2,500 billion. According to the Economic Commission for Africa, with the implementation of this project, intra-African trade may jump by 52.3% when custom duties on imports are removed, and doubled when non-tariff barriers are overcome.