As the deadline for the Continental Free Trade Area looms, experts consider its future

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Addis Ababa, 11 May 2017 – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) convened a two-day expert group meeting to review the Eighth Edition of the Assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA) report on the theme, “Bringing the CFTA About”. The joint annual report of the ECA, African Union Commission (AUC) and African Development Bank (AfDB) aims to support the negotiation, conclusion, and effective implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

The meeting gathered a broad range of experts in the fields of trade economics, trade law, political economy and regional integration, drawn from academia, research organizations and think tanks, civil society, private sector advocacy organizations, Regional Economic Communities and international agencies.

In his keynote address, Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission welcomed the focus on the CFTA implementation challenges that lie ahead. He noted that among the challenges is the question of the reconfiguration of regional economic communities under the CFTA at the stage of the establishment of the African Customs Union in accordance with the Abuja Treaty commitments.

He also stressed the need for alternative arrangements for a CFTA secretariat that could be considered by Trade Ministers and Heads of State and Government.

For his part, David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) said in his opening remarks, “The ARIA report is to ensure that policy makers receive solid policy recommendations based on evidence.”

Mr. Luke said that the report looks beyond policy conceptualization to focus on the biggest regional integration challenge currently facing the continent: How to achieve the CFTA and ensure its effective implementation.

The main messages and policy recommendations of the ARIA VIII report are expected to be available in time for the meeting of the African Ministers of Trade, scheduled to be held in Niamey, Niger in June 2017 and for the African Union Summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2017.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826