Dr. Samy notes that Canadian trade with Africa is currently weak because of the geographical separation and the fact that the two economies are resource-driven. At the end of the day, there is a low «commercial compatibility.» Although Africa is generally more stable than in the past, trade with Africa is limited by conflict and security. Currently, Canadian export growth to Africa is slow, at about $2-4 billion per year, and Dr. Samy is skeptical of the serious impact this agreement will have on Canada. Canada has helped provide funding for free trade research in Africa, and Canadian government officials have already begun discussions with African officials to explore opportunities for cooperation with the new African trade bloc, according to a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were confidential. But tariffs are far from the only issue. Bureaucratic rules, corruption and other non-tariff barriers are a major problem in Africa. Another major obstacle to trade is bad roads and railways.

According to one study, trade costs in Africa are about 50% higher than in East Asia. The trade agreement, which has been under negotiation since 2015, was signed by 44 countries at an African Union summit in March. At another summit earlier this month, the agreement was signed by five other countries: South Africa, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Burundi and Namibia. As one of the continent`s most diverse and important economies, South Africa is a destination of choice for Canadian goods and services in Africa. In 2018, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and South Africa was $1.37 billion, representing $410.8 million in exports from Canada and $962.9 million in imports from South Africa. The agreement has the potential to create significant opportunities for Canadian businesses, NGOs, educational institutions and investors. First, by creating value chains and supply chains that enable the development of African activities. This growth requires supply, labour and expertise, and Canada could fill that gap. Second, the institutionalization of a trade policy system can lead to greater predictability and a stable, rules-based system that is attractive to Canadian trade and investment. Finally, new investment opportunities in Africa can take advantage of Canada`s expertise in higher education (lack of engineering and agronomy skills), clean energy and agricultural productivity, ecotourism, forestry, fishing and water.