Addis Ababa, December 28, 2018 (ECA) - Africa’s biggest story in 2018 was the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which is set to change the face of the continent with the creation of an integrated market of over one billion people and a combined GDP of approximately $3.3 trillion.
Given the minimum requirement of 22 ratifications for the AfCFTA to go into force, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) continues to urge African countries that are yet to sign and ratify the accord to do so.
AfCFTA will constitute the largest free trade area globally. This comes at a time when faith continues to ebb in the multilateral trading system and global confidence in regional integration processes is suffering.
And what a way to buttress the importance of the AfCFTA than the December inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) that was held in Cairo, Egypt. The IATF was designed to promote trade among African countries and to support the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Over 50,000 prominent dealmakers, businesses, industries, investors, countries, and suppliers attended the IATF where deals valued at $32.6 billion dollars were recorded, according to preliminary figures released by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
The Bank, which partnered with the ECA and others in organizing the IATF, says the majority of the deals were in the sectors of industrialization/export manufacturing ($6.2 billion); power ($6 billion); and financial services ($1.86 billion). Other key sectors included oil and gas; transport and logistics; heavy industry; mining; infrastructure; healthcare; and SME promotion.
ECA’s delegation to the IATF was led by Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, who stated that trading together under the AfCFTA will make Africa stronger and reduce some of the conflicts plaguing the continent today.
“While the rest of the world is re-questioning the issue of trade and there is a rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalism, we are the continent that is saying, we still believe in trade,” she added.
ECA’s David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), hailed the IATF for being a huge success.
“We, the ECA and ATPC in particular, are glad to have been part of this historic event that marks a fundamental consolidation and rationalization of African regional policy that allows us to position ourselves better and collectively,” he said.
With the AfCFTA being supported by initiatives such as the IATF, he added, “the sky can only be the limit for this resources-endowed continent and 2019 promises to be a much brighter year as the push for AfCFTA ratifications continues.”
ECA hosted a series of events during the IATF, such as the ones on Trade Finance for Female Entrepreneurs; The Creative Africa Exchange (CAX) Summit; Harnessing the Power of E-commerce to Promote Intra-African Trade, Understanding Policies and Legal Framework for Intra-African Trade Facilitation; Continental Workshop on Trade and Gender, and more.
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