Douala, 2 April 2018 (ECA – www.uneca.org/sro-ca) - Members of the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS) have urged the Secretariat of the 11-nation Community to intensify its efforts at mobilizing member States to do their due diligence for the ECCAS Free Trade Area (ECCAS FTA) to become effective. This is among the major recommendations of the 5th session of the Committee that has rounded off in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala, at a time when the entire African continent is coming together though the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Douala Session which was made possible by a European Union funding pot for the harmonization of ECCAS-CEMAC trade instruments, program-managed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), was chaired by the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Physical, Economic and Monetary Integration at the ECCAS Secretariat Ms. Marie Therese Chantal Mfoula, on behalf of Secretary General Ahmad Allam-Mi. Speaking side-by-side the Coordinator of the Technical Secretariat of the Steering Committee for the Rationalization of Regional Economic Communities in Central Africa – Mr. Patrice Libong Badjang (who welcomed the participants), Ms Mfoula implored the Committee’s members to double their efforts at helping countries of the Central African sub-region to fully align themselves with the current continent-wide integration process.
While stocktaking the extent of trade integration within the ECCAS Free Trade Area whose legal instruments were signed in 2004, members of the Committee noted that only three countries – Cameroon, Congo and Gabon – out of the 11 ECCAS member-States had fulfilled an important requirement for the FTA to become effective, notably by embedding the ECCAS Preferential Tariff (TP/ECCAS) in their respective finance bills. In a related development, only three countries have set up national committees to examine issues related to the said preferential tariff as required by the clauses that created the sub-regional Free Trade Area.
In the above context, the Committee meeting in Douala implored the ECCAS Secretariat at to duly document what will be the impact on the budget of each member State when it fully ascribes to the ECCAS Preferential Tariff. This demarche, it was noted, would help Governments to quickly make their decisions, hence moving the trade integration process forward.
Meanwhile the Trade, Customs and Immigration Committee called on ECCAS member States to make provisions for actualizing the work program of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFA) during this transition period leading up to the smooth take of the Area.
With a population of about 170 million, the ECCAS sub-region constitutes about 15 per cent of the 1.2 billion African market, given its member States the unique opportunity to significantly lift their economies and systematically contain the shocks associated with falling commodity prices on the world market if they fully integrate into the AfCFTA. This is especially true as ECCAS is geographically contiguous with all the other main sub-regions of the Continental, where it would be a crossroads for the exchange of goods and services crisscrossing the continent.
These advantages are self-evident in pointing out the need for ECCAS member States to accelerate trade integration within their own sub-region as recommended by members of the Technical Committee who have channeled detailed recommendations of their 5th session to the countries in question via the ECCAS Secretariat.
The Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 14935 Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: (+237) 222504348 / 222504315 / 222504321
Abel Akara Ticha – Communication Officer
Tel: 237 222504348