Continental free trade area in focus at Africa Trade Week

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and Africa's trade relations with external parties are among the major issues in focus during a week-long event dubbed "Africa Trade Week" at the African Union(AU) Headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

Involving two main events, namely, the Africa Trade Forum, from Nov.28 to 30, and the High level Trade Facilitation Forum from Dec.1 to 2, the Africa Trade Week is said to be a platform for advancing intra-African trade dialogue among multi-stakeholder groups.

The Africa Trade Week is jointly organized by the AU and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The issues raised during the event include the relationship between Africa and the United Statesfollowing the election of Donald Trump as President-elect, the changing architecture of global trade, AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) implementation, trade partnerships, the CFTA, trade facilitation and related issues, according to ECA.

African CFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade, among other things, while enhancing competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels on the continent.

Speaking at the opening of the Africa Trade Forum on Monday, David Luke, an ECA official, has urged participants to come up with solutions to unanswered questions about the CFTA.

Luke said the CFTA is a bold initiative aiming to bring together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

He also urged participants to discuss how Africa can ensure the CFTA gets effectively implemented, adding that the full range of key African trade policy issues should be looked at this week.

"These include Africa's trade relations with Asia, Europe, the United States and emerging markets; how trade can support gender equality and empowerment; perspectives from the regional economic communities and the CFTA negotiations and related flanking measures," he stressed.

He noted that relations with Asia, Europe and the United States account for massive shares of Africa's trade currently, and it is important for Africa to get this right.

He said a research by the ECA has shown that the CFTA could add up to 2.5 percent to Africa's annual economic output which is around 65 billion U.S. dollars based on data for 2014.

Fatima Haram Acyl, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, said Africa needs to bring the cost of doing business down, to boost trade performance with trade facilitation, which looks at procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across borders, enabling Africa to do that.

The AU Commissioner reiterated that CFTA would help address many of Africa's biggest challenges such as youth unemployment, skills development, women's empowerment, industrialization, infrastructure development and eventually, Africa's transformation.

The Africa Trade Week is bringing together a broad range of stakeholders including senior government officials, regional economic communities, CEOs and executives from the private sector, development banks, and senior representatives from civil society, academia, international development agencies and the media.

This diverse group are expected to hold talks and chart a course for how African economies can be transformed through intra-regional trade and trade facilitation.

[ Editor: Jiaming ]


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