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Regional integration: UNCTAD and AfCFTA Secretariat strengthen ties to boost trade in Africa

UNCTAD and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost their joint efforts to promote regional integration and inclusive growth in Africa. This includes scaling up partnerships to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of African countries.

By editorial staff

The heightened partnership will enable UNCTAD to work closely with the AfCFTA Secretariat, African member states, regional economic communities, the business community and strategic development partners to foster regional economic integration and growth in Africa.

Joint work under the agreement aims to help African countries build the productive capacities they need to integrate regionally and participate in world trade more equitably. 

“Implementation of the AfCFTA is an unprecedented opportunity for African countries to come together as a region and enhance their participation in the global economy. It is a game-changing chance for them to expand trade and diversify their economies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. 

“By joining forces with the AfCFTA Secretariat, the wealth of UNCTAD’s expertise on trade and development in Africa can help the continent make progress on its ambitious development agenda,” She added. 

“Together, the Secretariat and UNCTAD can multiply the impact of support and help African countries achieve their integration goals”

“Increased cooperation is at the core of the AfCFTA. Together, the Secretariat and UNCTAD can multiply the impact of support and help African countries achieve their integration goals,” said Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene.

UNCTAD’s research and ongoing work has illustrated the transformative potential of the AfCFTA. The two organizations will draw on the depth and breadth of their experiences and prioritize five key areas.

These include enhancing cooperation on trade in goods, addressing non-tariff measures and non-tariff barriers and improving trade facilitation and customs cooperation across Africa. 

The common goals are also to boost trade in services and investment on the continent, bolster the protection of intellectual property rights and support the second phase of AfCFTA protocol negotiations on investment, intellectual property rights, competition policy and digital trade.

In addition, they will deliver joint capacity-building workshops and training, conduct research and draft technical studies, hold policy dialogues, exchange data and statistics, monitor and evaluate AfCFTA implementation, among other activities.

“This is the moment the founding mothers and fathers of the Organization of African Unity have longed for. We have finally honored and made reality the vision of those who liberated our continent”

Meanwhile, AfCFTA Secretariat based in Accra, the capital of Ghana, has recently launched a guided trade initiative for seven member countries, namely Tanzania, Mauritania, Kenya, Egypt, Cameroon, Rwanda and Ghana.

Wamkele Mene said at least 96 different products from the seven countries could be freely traded under the rules of AfCFTA. Products approved to trade under AfCFTA include horticultural products, pharmaceuticals, rubber, aluminum kitchenware, sugar, steel, and wooden products. These products originating from Africa will enjoy duty-free and quota-free trading among the partnering countries.

“This is the moment the founding mothers and fathers of the Organization of African Unity have longed for. We have finally honored and made reality the vision of those who liberated our continent,” said Mene. “We are connecting East Africa to West Africa, North Africa to Southern Africa. Trade will be the driver of inclusivity, creating opportunities for young Africans. So, we have taken the first journey today, and I hope in 15 years, we will have succeeded in lifting millions and millions of Africans out of poverty.”

“It symbolizes that AfCFTA is not just on paper but a reality. And we are moving from talk and negotiations to action. It also symbolizes that governments in Africa who have been involved in the negotiations are now giving way to the private sector to make it a reality,” stated Ghanaian Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen.

To actualize the dreams of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and keep it afloat, the Ghana International Trade and Finance (GITFiC) has taken a step further to launch a handbook on its activity. The book; ‘Actualising the African Economic Vision; A practical handbook on the AfCFTA’, which was launched at the Pacific Alliance Embassy in Accra received high patronage and would serve as the guideline for African leaders, the Academia, Trade and Finance community and all other patrons of the AfCFTA worldwide.

For more information : https://unctad.org

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