The aspiration is for the research to be highly applied: the knowledge gathered and produced should match the issues to be negotiated in the AfCFTA phase II negotiations and strive, wherever possible, to inform the content of the negotiations going forward. As such, the intention is for the research to form the intellectual groundwork underpinning the phase II negotiations. While this ensures that the report is meaningful and relevant, it is also intended that its content be timeless: to the greatest extent possible, the work will consider issues that are relevant not just to the AfCFTA now, but to future African negotiations with other trading partners and negotiations elsewhere in the world.
The topics addressed by the AfCFTA are not new. Other regional groupings, from Asia to South America and indeed sub-regions in Africa, have taken regional approaches to such issues as intellectual property rights, competition policy, investment, and digital trade and e-commerce. Drawing from this, the adopted methodology will be anchored on a combined case study and comparative analysis method, but will also draw from existing relevant research material.