African Union’s (AU’s) integration history indicates that the continental body is plagued by flexibility hindering its goal of continental unity. This article investigates the utility of‘flexibility’ standard in the adoption, ratification, and the implementation of AU treaties. Through an empirical analysis of the seventy treaties currently in force at the AU, thirty-four treaties have been able to secure the minimum level of ratification. Results show that a treaty that lacks the required number of signatories and ratifications creates a big challenge for the continental body. On the other hand, treaty ratification is not a guarantee for successful implementation. Historically, differing views on AU’s role, goals and effect on regional stability has forced a gravitational pull on the essence of the body. Yet, AU continues to facilitate regional free trade agreements and customs union. One of these is the recent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. This article argues that achieving flexibility under AfCFTA is illusionary, hence AU should strive towards attaining a clear roadmap for flexibility milieu in the implementation of AfCFTA. We argue that, for AfCFTA to be effective, all AU Member States must ratify the agreement, thereby ensuring the harmonization of regional trade agreements, and elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers. The article concludes that the AU must utilize the principle of variable geometry to have a differentiated level and speed of integration, still achieving the same objective of a unified continent towards maximum intra-trade realization.
|Number of pages
|Global Trade and Customs Journal
|Published - 1 Jan 2021