The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) recently inaugurated its dispute settlement body- a mechanism for settling investment and intellectual property rights disputes. The body is also designed to help implement free trade agreements among member states and disputes over conflicting public policy objectives and market access.
Establishing a single African trade market for trade liberalisation requires a transparent and predictable system where disputes can be resolved cordially. Disputes are adjudicated by panellists chosen from a list of candidates nominated by the Member States with two experts each. The mechanism also establishes an appellate body to review panel decisions to ensure fairness. In addition to adjudication by panels and the appellate body, the mechanism also provides alternative dispute resolutions such as conciliation, mediation and arbitration which provide efficient means to resolve disputes.
The establishment of the dispute settlement body seeks to protect the interests of member states by using regulations that defend public trade interests and provide remedies to vulnerable domestic industries.
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