Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 14 May 2018 (ECA) – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a major milestone that will no doubt lead to a prosperous integrated Africa that is less dependent on outside sources for its wellbeing, Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohamed Boussaid, said Monday.
Mr. Boussaid was contributing to debate in a roundtable discussion at the 51st session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that focused on fiscal space and financial sustainability in the context of the AfCFTA.
The Minister appealed to countries that are yet to sign-up to the agreement to do so, saying ‘there are no losers, we are all winners’ with the AfCFTA, especially when it becomes fully operational, opening the way to free trade throughout Africa, facilitating member countries’ industrialisation and economic diversification and ensuring sustainable, employment generating growth for the whole region.
He said intra-African trade will increase once the agreement comes into force.
“Since we will be less dependent on outside sources for the value of our commodities, trade will allow the continent to catch-up in many ways with the rest of the world,” said Mr. Boussaid, adding beyond economic advantages, the AfCFTA should give African citizens a sense of pride to belong to a global block that will improve conditions of life across the continent.
“I believe that inter African trade is currently at less than 15 percent but when we look at the regional market in some places, it goes up to 66 percent. Therefore, there is a great potential - enormous potential for inter-African trade as a result of the AfCFTA and we’ll be less dependent on external actors. The AfCFTA is a milestone for a prosperous Africa. There are no losers, we will all win as long as we have the right instruments in place.”
For her part, Niger’s Planning Minister, Aichatou Boulama Kane, said the benefits of the AfCTA were innumerable hence the need for countries that are yet to sign-up to the agreement to do so.
She also urged member countries to quickly ratify the instruments of the AfCFTA so the agreement can go into force for the benefit of the African people.
“As a continent we really do not have a choice – we need to grow our economies and be less dependent on the outside world by mobilising domestic resources to fund our developmental issues,” said Ms. Kane.
Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) said he was worried that African countries had a history of not ratifying treaties and agreements they sign-up to. This, he said, may endanger the AfCFTA.
“Ratification of CFTA is only the beginning. To make sure countries benefit from the maximum outcomes, it means that implementation will have to be accelerated through a strong strategy,” he said, adding higher domestic resources would make it easier for countries to implement the AfCFTA.
“The AfCFTA itself will promote the mobilisation of resources that are needed to fund development across the board and it will also help create a more sustainable fiscal space in Africa.”
Professor of Economics at Warwick University, Herakles Polemarchakis, shared his experiences as an adviser to Greece during the Greek financial crisis which was a series of debt crises that began with the global financial crisis of 2008.
He said some countries incurred huge debts because they consumed more than what they produced.
The Conference of Ministers ends Tuesday.
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