Friday, 25 April 2014

African Union engages talks with stakeholders over the Continental Free Trade Area

Description: IMG_0496
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 24th April 2014: The Senior Officials Session of the extraordinary Session of African Union (AU) Conference Ministers of Trade and Industry kicked off 23 April 2014. During four days, The Member States of the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Regional business organizations will be discussing some pertinent issues which impact on Africa’s continental integration agenda. The main objective of this meeting is to implement the mandate given by the High Level African Trade Committee (HATC) of Heads of State and Government to discuss and provide sound recommendations on the Work Programme, Negotiating Modalities and Principles towards the 2015 launching of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations as well as to consider reports on Africa’s response and implications of the WTO Bali Agreement. The meeting all also considers assessment studies on Africa’s Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the state of play of negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

As we proceed to build the CFTA let us put African people  at the centre of this agenda, I mean this in the broadest sense especially, with the involvement of constituencies such as civil society, private sector constituents, women and youth organizations inter alia. We are building the architecture for the future of the continent and not the past”, the Director for Trade and Industry, Mrs. Treasure Maphanga highlighted in her speech. She noted that intra-regional trade flows among African countries are lower than in other regions, averaging 10-12% compared to 71% in Europe, 52 in Asia and 52 in intra –North America among others. But she underscored the fact that, about 60 to 70% of African families are sustained by the informal economy which could explain why the figures of intra-African trade are low. In this regard, Mme Maphanga stressed that unity is what makes Africa stronger and will present greater market opportunities for the private sector, both domestic and international firms. “The challenge before us is to ensure that all of us gathered here become the first champions and commit ourselves by the end of this meeting to play a key role in mobilizing support at the national and regional levels for the AU agenda on the CFTA and African market integration.  If we do not believe in our own agenda, how can we be custodians that are accountable for the enormous resources that go into organizing such gatherings?” she said.

In his opening remarks, the chair Mr. Abel Guetimbaye Mbaïkombe, Deputy Secretary General for Trade and Industry in Chad, reminded the participants that the meeting also aims at preparing working documents to be submitted to the ministerial session in order to get orientations and paths to follow throughout the different negotiations phases. “I would therefore beg your insightfulness, your sense of responsibility and seriousness so that our meeting draws meaningful conclusion and lives up to our expectations. This is why we must seize the opportunity to exchange, share and evaluate the outcomes of the different studies related to the agenda because the economic history teaches us that in order to take better advantage of the multilateral cooperation, we have to first consolidate the internal acquis, to forge the sense of solidarity by building a united block to win regional and world markets”, he emphasized.
The meeting was prepared on the basis of the decisions taken by the last summit whereby the High Level African Trade Committee directed Ministers of Trade to hold an Extraordinary Session. This ministerial session will be held from 27 to 28 April 2014 at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Description: IMG_0546

For further information please consult our website: