Addis Ababa, 25 May, 2021, ECA –The Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said it was time to start meaningful implementation of the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to yield its benefits for African people.
Taking prompt action would help the continent to build forward better from the COVID-19 pandemic, David Luke said at a webinar to mark Africa Day which the ATPC co-hosted with the African Consuls General (ACG) Forum in New York and other partners, including South Africa’s Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), the African e-Trade Group (Ae Trade) and the Corporate Council on Africa.
The AfCFTA will not fulfill its tremendous potentials without the necessary measures that attract foreign and intra-African investments and facilitate business opportunities, he said, noting its promise of boosting intra-African export of industrial goods and agricultural goods sectors, if well executed. He said the agreement could also promote gender equality and women empowerment, and create trading and entrepreneurship opportunities for women in multiple economic roles through increased access to continental export markets, as well as through the development of regional value chains in agriculture, manufacturing, and services.
The gains could be larger yet if informal traders were better integrated into the formal system as they turn intra-African trade into informal cross-border trade which accounts for a considerable volume of trade in African countries, said Dr. Luke.
In his own remarks, Motumisi Tawana, Chairman of the ACG Forum and Consul-General of South Africa in New York, said the AfCFTA gave practical expression to Africa’s goal of achieving economic freedom and to increasing its footprint in the international trading system, whilst offering significant opportunities in a post COVID-19 global trade and investment environment.
Lerato Mataboge,-Deputy-Director General International Trade and Investment at the dtic, emphasized the importance of the AfCFTA as a tool for creating an integrated and prosperous Africa, anchored in three pillars that include market integration, industrialization and infrastructure development. According to Ms Mataboge, South Africa’s growth was considered to be inextricably linked to that of the continent, and it was for that reason that South Africa was a key driver of Africa’s integration.
The AfCFTA is the world’s largest trading bloc by number of member-countries with over 1.2 billion people and a $2.5 trillion economy. It commenced trading on 1 January this year following a six-month delay caused by COVID-19.
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