Addis Ababa, 16 March 2021, ECA – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and stakeholders in the East African Community (EAC) today held a workshop to review the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) implementation strategy for the sub region.
The ECA, which is providing the sub-region with technical support through its unit, the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), was represented at the virtual meeting by a team led byMama Keita, the director of ECA’s sub-regional office for East Africa.
Ms Keita told delegates that the ECA was assisting more than 40 African countries and regional economic communities (RECs) to develop their AfCFTA strategies, saying that the EAC planmust be a “practical document to help determine how the region can strategically capture the African market: which market we should concentrate on, which products we need to add value to, where we can source raw materials and how to improve our competitiveness.”
The strategy should also address the challenges confronting the business community because the private sector is best suited to produce and trade in an efficient manner, she said.
In his own remarks, the Director General for Customs and Trade in the EAC, Kenneth Bagamuhunda, praised the ECA for its support, adding that the Community was the foremost one among the RECs to have a strategy in place, with implementation likely to start in June.
Widely described as a game changer, the AfCFTA provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world's largest free trade area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people with a gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion that is expected to usher in a new era of development. Trading under the pact commenced on 1 January this year after a postponement for six months as a result of the pandemic.
It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction. It will also constitute a significant milestone towards the realization of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for the socio-economic transformation of the continent.
The ECA, through the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), has been working with the African Union Commission (AUC) and member states of the AU to deepen Africa's trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development. The ECA also works with the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and independent trade experts to assist with the implementation of the agreement.
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Tel: +21 11 51 5826