The headquarters of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa hosted the last week three important meetings to begin operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA): the meeting of African Trade Ministers (AMOT), the 8th Senior Trade Officers (STO) and 15th Trade Negotiations Forum.
The meeting was attended by ministers and delegates from the African Union Member States and representatives from the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (CEA), Afreximbank, the Regional Economic Communities, the African Bank and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“AfCFTA legally entered into force but for it to deliver its transformative economic potential, the signatory countries – and the few countries that have not yet signed – must rapidly join and ratify the Agreement to ensure that the continent moves forward together as one entity,” said Giovanie Biha, ECA´s Deputy Executive Secretary.
“The coming into existence of the AfCFTA is a continuation of a long journey that started with the establishment of Regional Economic Communities as building blocks of the African Economic Community. From here, Africa has to move to the next stages of a customs union, common market, monetary union and eventually African Economic Community,” stated Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the AUC.
The process of selecting the country to hold the AfCFTA Secretariat has started and the final decision on the hosting will be made at the Niamey Summit scheduled to take place on 7 July.
Lusophone Africa receives ECA support
The Portuguese-speaking African countries are receiving technical support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to finalize the process of accession to the African Free Trade Agreement.
ECA’s regional director for Central Africa, António Pedro, reveals that he has already begun a dialogue with Sao Tome and Principe. “We organized a national forum on the agreement and, among other things, said that it was necessary, in the context of São Tomé, to specialize in the area of services. Therefore, including tourism, and both the blue economy in general, given the enormous potential that the blue economy represents for Sao Tome and Principe. “
António Pedro was also recently in Angola, where he believes that this initiative of the African Union will catalyze the creation of national industries. The result will be the creation of value chains, according to the director of ECA.
“These studies and diagnostics need to be done on a country-by-country basis to identify their comparative advantages and thus to create a strategy around them.”
The AfCFTA, which aims to promote the economic emancipation of the continent, has already been ratified by more than 22 nations until May 30, the legal limit for its validation.
At the end of July, the treaty will be launched at the African Union Commission summit in Niamey by the countries that have ratified it. These economies have agreed to eliminate tariffs, quotas, and preferences on goods traded. Inter-African trade is now considered “tiny” with trade between 16% and 17%.