Monday, 21 October 2013

Addis Ababa, 21st October 2013 - In line with the decision by African leaders at the January 2012 summit of the African Union Commission (AUC) to actively boost Intra-African Trade and establish a Continental Free Trade Area in the continent by 2017, the first phase of the 8th Conference of African Ministers of Trade (CAMoT) began today, the 21st of October 2013 at the AUC, with a meeting of Senior Officials drawn from the AUC, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), various member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs). 

The underscored objective of today’s’ meeting was to consider, ‘the strategic framework for the implementation of the action plan for boosting intra-African trade and negotiating the principles for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)’ among others. Speaking at the opening ceremony, the AUC Commissioner for Trade and Industry, H.E. Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl stated that this 8th Conference of African Ministers of Trade comes at a crucial time when there is a lot that is taking place in African and multinational trade.

Commissioner Fatima said that Africa is predictably the next growth frontier in today’s world and it has all the elements and capabilities to emerge successfully out of the present poverty. She went on to say that “we are witnessing a growing middle class that makes the continent an excellent location for trade and investment opportunities”. However, she stressed that such goals would not be achievable if all the stakeholders involved do not unite and continue working together efficiently. “Let us make decisions today that would position Africa to take advantage of these possibilities tomorrow”, the Commissioner added. In this regard, she pointed out the importance of building infrastructure and developing industries on the continent.

The Commissioner also revealed that the commission has constructed a framework for the development of infrastructure. She highlighted that the AUC is working actively to find useful instruments and build institutional capacities which would ensure that intra-African trade grows effectively and, thus helping Africa integrate efficiently into the global economy.   This ideal was strongly supported by the Director of Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division at the UNECA, Dr. Stephen Karingi, who emphasized that the agenda to boost intra-African trade should be paramount to all present at the meeting. He said that “it is only through value added trade that we stand the best chance of creating jobs in Africa”.

The opening ceremony began with a foreword by the Director of the Ministry of Trade for the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Geremew Ayalew who stressed on the importance of intra-African trade and the potential it can provide for Africa. “Trade has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable development, employment generation and the integration of our continent into the global economy” he added.

The 8th Ordinary Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Trade (CAMoT) is expected to last until the 25th of October, 2013 with the Meeting of the Ministers of Trade commencing on 24th October 2013.