The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marks a crucial step towards economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development in Africa. The effective management of disputes arising from the interpretation and violation of the Agreement is essential for the success of the AfCFTA. To address this, the AfCFTA established the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM), implemented by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
DSB’s Significant Contributions to the AfCFTA:
Since its inception in April 2021, the DSB has held eight meetings focused on operationalizing the DSM. These meetings have led to several key decisions, such as the establishment of the Appellate Body, the appointment of five Appellate Body Members, and the adoption of the indicative list of persons to serve as Panel members.
Upcoming Ninth DSB Meeting:
Aligned with the African Union’s 2023 theme, “Accelerating the Implementation of the AfCFTA,” the AfCFTA Secretariat is organizing the ninth DSB meeting from March 20 to 24, 2023. This meeting will concentrate on further operationalizing the implementing bodies of the DSM.
Objectives of the Ninth Meeting:
The ninth meeting aims to achieve several objectives, including updating the Indicative List of the Members of the Panel. This update will ensure that the list remains current and relevant, allowing the DSB to effectively manage disputes.
Additionally, the meeting will consider and adopt the Ministerial Regulation, which outlines the working conditions of the Members of the Appellate Body and provides administrative support for its effective functioning. This adoption will enable the Appellate Body to operate efficiently and deliver fair outcomes in disputes.
The meeting will also focus on creating awareness of the DSM by considering and adopting a communication plan. This plan will ensure that stakeholders are well-informed about the DSM and its processes, promoting transparency and understanding.
Furthermore, the ninth meeting will address the information note on the Dispute Settlement Portal and the information note on the establishment of the list of experts. These notes will enhance the functionality of the DSM by providing necessary information and resources to the DSB and its stakeholders.
During this meeting, the first five members of the Appellate Body will take their oaths, officially commencing their roles in the DSM. Moreover, a capacity-building workshop on Rules of Origin will be provided to DSB Members before discussing the items mentioned above.
Through the continuous operationalization of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism and the pursuit of meeting objectives, the DSB significantly contributes to accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA and fostering economic growth and development across Africa.