Wednesday, 10 December 2014
African Union Ministers of Trade consider Global Trade and Investments Trends as the Continent prepares to launch the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)
Addis Ababa, 9th December 2014: The two-day Ministerial Conference of the 9th Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Trade (CAMOT-9) opened on 4th December 2014 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Session was convened for Ministers to deliberate upon, give guidance, and take decisions on a number of trade issues that are crucial for the socio-economic development of the continent.
The objective of the Ministerial meeting is mainly to prepare towards the launch of the Continental Free Trade areas Area negotiations in 2015, as directed by the AU Summit. In this regard, the meeting will consider key documents including the Draft Objectives and Guiding Principles for the negotiations of the CFTA, Draft Institutional Arrangements for CFTA Negotiations.
In her opening statement, the AUC Commissioner for Trade and Industry, H.E. Mrs Fatima Haram Acyl, recalled the objective of the meeting and reminded the Ministers that despite the economic growth performance, the Continent is still remaining the epicenter of global poverty. “If the vision set in Agenda 2063 of “an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena “is to be realized, we must intensify our efforts to achieve rapid, inclusive, poverty-reducing and sustainable economic growth”, she mentioned. The Commissioner highlighted that in the current era of globalization, the major challenge confronting African Trade Ministers is to ensure that the continent is well integrated into the Global Trading System and hence trade plays its role as engine of growth and development, for the contribution to the realization of the vision of a prosperous, strong and united Africa as articulated in the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Agenda 2063. Mrs. Acyl also recalled the adoption of the Boosting Intra-African Trade and the fast-tracking of the establishment of the (BIAT/CFTA) by the Heads of State and Government and urged the participants to take action. “The time for rhetoric should now be over and that of concrete action should begin in earnest”.(The full speech of the Commissioner is available on www.au.int )
In his remarks Mr. Robert Azevedo, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), noted that Africa has unmatched potential with abundant opportunities for trade and investmentbecause it has the youngest population and the highest growth. He underlined that the African Union's Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade is very important and stressed that ongoing regional integration are critical for the creation of the Continental Free Trade Area. “Africa’s regional integration is totally compatible with the multilateral agenda – indeed I think this work will support wider integration into the multilateral trading system. The fact that intra-African trade remains just a tenth of Africa's total trade shows that improving regional integration is critical. But it also shows that engaging at the global and multilateral level remains vital. That's why, while you are pursuing these regional efforts, you are also making your voices heard more loudly than ever at the WTO”, The Director General said. (The full statement is available on www.au.int)
Taking the floor, Mr. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, stressed the importance of being prepared and to ensure that structural transformation as the pillar for Africa’s trade policy framework. “Economic research, as well as the wisdom of our Panafrican thinkers, has long shown that intra-African trade can be the springboard for industrialization. Intra-African trade is already significantly more diversified than Africa’s trade with the rest of the world”, he said. (The full statement is available on www.au.int).
On his part, the Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC) Mrs. Arancha Gonzalez, observed that one of the areas the ITC has focused its efforts on is in building a strong relationship, not only with individual countries, but also with the regional economic communities and with the African Union Commission. “We are working with the AUC and the six RECs to develop complementary projects and programmes in support of your strategy to build a Continental Free Trade Area. We approach this through delivering our expertise around six focus areas which we have detailed in our 2015-2017 strategic plan, including trade and market intelligence”, she indicated. “We are also supporting the AUC in the establishment of a Pan-African Trade Observatory”, she added. (The full statement is available on www.au.int ).
The Ministerial conference was attended by the Ministers of Trade and Representatives of AU Member states as well as Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the International Trade Center (ICT), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other key partners.