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Trade Experts Call For Swift Implementation of Africa Free Trade Area

As Africa experiences an economic downturn due to Covid-19, trade experts are looking to the African Continental Free Trade Area for the continent to grow.

Published on October 20, 2020

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International Trade experts have called for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be swiftly implemented in order to boost Africa, at a time when the continent is experiencing a sharp economic downturn due to the effect of Covid-19.

AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene recently explained during a trade forum in Senegal that a contraction of GDP in sub-Sahran Africa, of between 2% and 5%, "will manifest itself in reduced exports and loss of employment, among other challenges". Mr Mene added that "However, it is projected that the implementation of the AfCFTA will boost intra-Africa trade by $35 to billion, increase value-chain development across all sectors, enhance the competitiveness of industry and reduce the trade deficit by 50%."

Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), echoed Mr Mene's comments, saying that "'The continent must work toward operating as one trade bloc by 1 January 2021 ... ITC is fully engaged in helping the African private sector to convert opportunities offered by the AfCFTA into concrete business transactions".

Ms Tembo also announced the launch of a new ITC programme, titled "One Trade Africa", which is designed to "unlock the full business potential of the AfCFTA targeted at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises."

Amaury Hoste, European Union Delegation Team leader, also spoke at the forum in Dakar, and said that "The European Union is the brainchild of regional integration, and believes that SMEs can do much if the environment is favourable".

The Commissioner of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tei Konzi, also expressed support for the free trade area, saying that "We as ECOWAS remain committed to facilitating intra-African trade by streamlining customs and administrative procedures as well as regulations in the region"

More information about the One Trade Africa programme, and other projects conducted by the International Trade Centre, can be found at www.intracen.org

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