The African continent is steadily growing as a priority for the European Union (EU). The Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, announced in 2018 by former president of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, serves as an important context for increased cooperation between the EU and Africa in the areas of investment and trade, seeking to boost employment and sustainable growth in Africa. This Africa-Europe Alliance was introduced in complement of the long-standing political partnership between the regions, and it is now one of several policies in place aimed at advancing the EU’s African trade and investment. Along with the Africa-Europe Alliance, several Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are in place between the EU and Africa and the EU supports the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Given this environment focused on the advancement of the continent’s trade policies, AETS was recently awarded an EC-funded contract to provide technical advisory, critical engagement and communication in the area of EU trade and investment policy in Africa.

In addition to its continent-wide focus, the two-year contract focuses specifically on three countries, namely Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana considered mature middle-income economies and regional powerhouses. These three countries already have ties to the EU in the area of trade and investment, each notably having an EPA with the EU, but these ties are expected to be reinforced, in part through improving their implementation so as to produce further results. The business and investment climate of these focus countries will be reviewed with a view to removing obstacles, particularly for EU businesses. Five other countries from Eastern and Southern Africa (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe) will also be studied to boost implementation of their interim regional EPAs, to move towards comprehensive free trade agreements.

The contract should harness the role of the EU as a key trade and investment partner for the Sub-Saharan region, by strengthening ongoing joint trade and investment initiatives and deepening implementation of the EPAs. In addition to several research assignments - country-focused, regional and continent-wide - numerous events are programmed: two regional technical workshops in Nairobi and Accra respectively; a high-level policy event on the automotive sector in South Africa; and technical workshops in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to present fact-based evidence of the value of EU trade and investment in Africa.