Study Report on Trends, Structural Reforms and Intercontinental Trade Dynamics: The Case of Sierra Leone’s Approach to the Implementation of the AfCFTA

This study is the second in the series of the initial gathering of data and information on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) across selected West African countries. The first study assessed the preparedness of local businesses in Ghana to participate in the implementation of the AfCFTA in Ghana and focused largely on the context of the AfCFTA and other trade agreements in Ghana, context of trade in Ghana pre-AfCFTA, trade policy environment in Ghana, readiness of local businesses to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA and the key policy implications. This report follows in a similar course, providing evidence on the trends, structural reforms and intercontinental trade dynamics in the implementation process and approach of the AfCFTA in Sierra Leone. The findings from this assessment provides the base for establishing the key policy entry points needing critical analysis, further research and advocacy to help improve the processes for full actualization of the objectives of the continental agreement in Sierra Leone. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a creation of the African Union with the aim of harmonising existing regional trade agreements of eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) recognised by the African Union (AU). The operational phase of the AfCFTA was launched during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly on the AfCFTA in Niamey in July 2019 and trading under the AfCFTA Agreement was due to start on the 1st of July, 2020. This was however, delayed as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic and officially commenced in January of 2021 and is still at the early/initial stages of implementation. The Agreement establishes a free trade area across the African continent to promote trade and manufacturing with the rippling effect of contributing to the reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty by 30 million people and people living in moderate poverty by 68 million by the year 2035.