Photograph — African Union

The 32 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa have been granted a reprieve to protect their sensitive economic sectors from duty-free imports under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The protection, expected to last for 13 years, represents a major concession aimed at securing their ratification of the deal.

Since the launch of the AfCFTA agreement, which aims to achieve tariff concessions, LDCs have expressed fears that implementation from July 1 next year will lead to heavy revenue losses. This is because LDCs, which comprise over half of Africa’s 55 countries, is still heavily dependent on the trade taxes to fund their national budgets.

“Despite low levels of intra-Africa trade, tariff revenue is still an important source of government revenue and remains an important measure to reduce import competition and so protect domestic industry,” said Benedict Musengele, Acting Director in-charge of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs Department at the COMESA Secretariat.

Read more on: The East African

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