The African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat has signed a new cooperation agreement with the People’s Republic of China on Economic Cooperation.
The partnership is being spearheaded by Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce.
The group is targeting amongst many other things experience-sharing on intellectual property rights, customs procedures, digital trade, and competition policy. Also, China has agreed to share information on its foreign trade and investment facilitation cooperation including Africa.
The latest deal is seen as an enhancement of trade and investment under pre-existing protocols with the African Union such as the Forum of China and Africa cooperation FOCAC.
Speaking at a virtual ceremony to outdoor the new partnership, Wamkele MENE, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat noted that the aspects on intellectual property rights, investment, competition policy and digital trade which are captured in this new cooperation framework would be particularly critical for the impending AfCFTA Phase II negotiations.
“China has made tremendous progress in the knowledge economy, where innovation is the driver for economic growth and intellectual property is the anchor of innovation. China, therefore, has the experience to support the AfCFTA processes in these key areas” Wamkele MENE added.
In recent years, China has been the main driver of global growth in IP filings. Filing activity in China grew in 2018 by 11.6% for patents, 28.3% for trademarks and 12.7% for industrial designs. The IP office of China now accounts for 46.4% of patent filings and more than half of global trademark (51.4%) and industrial design (54%) filing activity.
Banging hopes on this profile, the AfCFTA Secretary General expressed hope that new trading and investment opportunities will created for both parties in various economic sectors, including agro-processing, automobiles, and financial technology.
He concluded that the signing of the Memorandum will also chart the course for a stronger, closer and more longstanding partnership between the AfCFTA Secretariat and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.