Libreville, 24 April 2018 (ECA) - Over 70 participants including lead national negotiators from African countries and global experts in natural resources contracts, investment, taxation and financial instruments, as well as trade, have converged in Libreville for the 4th Annual Workshop on International Economic Negotiations.
The five-day event dubbed “Building Africa’s Negotiating Capacity for Improved Terms of Engagement with the Rest of the World,” was officially opened by Barthelemy Ngoulakia, Secretary General of Gabon’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Mr. Ngoulakia praised the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for its effort to strengthen the negotiating capacity and ability of African countries through this workshop.
He said the ECA initiative was highly relevant given that, “globalization comes with many challenges for developing countries and African countries in particular, which usually negotiate trade deals with partners that are better equipped.”
The Gabonese official said his government is aware of the negative effects of poor economic negotiations and is, therefore, currently “ engaged in reforms to improve the institutional and legal frameworks for negotiating economic deals.”
The opening ceremony was chaired by Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, Director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP).
Ms. Soltane noted that besides improving Africa’s negotiating ability with the external world, such capacity-building exercise will boost intra-Africa relations and enhance regional integration, especially following the recent historic signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali.
The workshop is organized by ECA’s Capacity Development Division (CDD). In his welcome remarks, Mr. Martin Ndende, a CDD Senior Regional Adviser thanked the government of Gabon for its hospitality and urged participants to take full advantage of the various experts who will provide the training throughout the workshop. The workshop runs from 23 to 27 April 2018.
Mr. Ndende used the opportunity to thank ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, for green-lighting the continuation of this annual project despite recent restructuring at the commission.
“This tells you to what extent our Executive Secretary understands the importance for African countries to negotiate better economic deals internationally,” said Mr. Ndende.
“African countries are usually the losers in most economic negotiations they are part of," he added. “That vicious circle needs to be broken in order that we can negotiate better deals within the context of sustainable development on the continent.”
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Tel: +251 11 551 5826