Can trade boost industrialisation in Africa?

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Geneva, 01 October 2015 (ECA) – The 2015 Economic Report on Africa produced by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) formed the basis for discussions on trade during a Working Session at the 2015 World Trade Organization Public Forum on trade in Africa on 01 October 2015.

Titled “Continental Free Trade Area: Boosting Trade for People in Africa?”, the session focused on the contribution trade can make to  industrialisation efforts on the continent. The discussions included a review of different approaches to understand the potential impact of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) on intra-African trade expansion, structural change, poverty reduction, incomes, employment, agriculture livelihoods and food security. 

The 2015 Economic Report on Africa (ERA) concludes that trade-induced industrialisation is not automatic but requires concerted efforts at policy and mobilisation levels. For trade to contribute to industrialisation ECA’s report recommends “integrated and coherent trade and industrial policies along with consultations with and the inclusion of various stakeholders”. 

In June 2015, the African Union summit launched negotiations to achieve a free trade area throughout the continent. The first phase of the negotiations will cover both goods and services followed by investment, competition policy, and intellectual property.

The panel included Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of Regional Integration and Trade Division at ECA; Ambassador Xavier Carim, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the WTO, Ms. Marion Jansen, Chief Economist at the International Trade Centre and Mr. Ayush Bat-Erdene, Chief, Right to Development at the Office  of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will discuss the context, scope, and sequence of the negotiations.  Mr. David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at ECA moderated the session.

A ceremony and reception, sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, to launch the Economic Report on Africa 2015 followed the session.


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