New ECA publications put in focus human rights perspective of CFTA; smart trade & industrial policy in Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2 November 2017 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) on Wednesday launched joint reports on transforming African economies through smart trade and industrial policy and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), respectively.

The joint launch was organized by the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa during the ongoing 10th Session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration.

The two reports launched were; “Transforming African Economies Through Smart Trade and Industrial Policy”, a joint report of the ATPC and the London-based ODI, and “The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Africa – A Human Rights Perspective”, a joint report of the ATPC and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).

The CFTA report was also done in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The first report provides a thorough assessment of what is required of African economies to undertake smart industrialization through trade, informed by an analysis of whether current trade policies and tariff structures positively contribute to Africa’s broader industrialization policy.

The second report provides an ex-ante Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the CFTA, which explores the potential adverse effects of the CFTA on vulnerable groups such as women, informal cross border trades, the youth and smallholder farmers.

In his remarks at the joint launch, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, David Luke, said the reports were closely related with their recommendations complementing one another.

“Unless the CFTA is targeted at achieving Africa’s industrialization goals, it will not be able to support inclusive and human rights consistent trade,” Mr. Luke noted.

Expert discussants from the International Labour Organization (ILO), SEATINI-Uganda, the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and the ODI applauded the organisations involved for what they said were excellent publications that will go a long way in informing debate and member States’ decisions on trade, industrial policy and related issues.

They highlighted that globalization was a reality that Africa cannot run away from but added that it must start at home through regional integration and the CFTA.

At the same time, it was noted that the recent backlash against globalization has been partly driven by inadequate attention being paid to important distributive issues related to human rights, and that the CFTA human rights impact assessment was therefore very timely and welcome.

The experts praised the “Transforming African Economies Through Smart Trade and Industrial Policy” report for acknowledging the importance of standards and conformity assessment in Africa’s industrialization, and moving away from the traditional protectionist view of how to use trade policy for industrial development.

The launch was attended by representatives of Member States, regional economic communities (RECs), the African Union Commission (AUC), civil society, academia and the private sector.


Issued by:

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