AfCFTA delegates mull implementation committee

Delegates during the 1st ratification of AfCTFA in Kigali.

There were renewed calls for enhanced cooperation between signatory countries of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on the eve of a trade facilitation committee that got under way in Addis Ababa at the weekend.

At a forum prior to the committee, delegates were reminded that “the dream of a single African market where goods flow easily from the Port of Cape Town to the markets of Marrakesh came within grasp in March 2018 when the region’s leaders signed an agreement to begin establishing a continent-wide free trade area”.

But in a statement released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), it was also stressed that “boosting intra-African trade requires fixing incompatible customs clearance systems, poor roads and inefficient ports that cause bottlenecks at borders”.

Adding his voice to calls for constant collaboration, African Union Commission customs adviser, Willie Shumba, stressed that because the range of issues related to cross-border harmonisation was so wide, AfCFTA’s “implementation can’t be the remit of one entity”.

As attendees were about to commence with talks at the First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees in the Ethiopian capital, delegates keen on creating a committee to oversee the implementation of AfCFTA were asked to be circumspect about possible trade agreement contradictions.

It was remarked that “African governments should first check to see if one already exists for trade provision that falls under another agreement that they have signed up to, such as the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)”.

Poul Hanson mentioned that because TFA’s implementation committee had such “strong coherence” with the one envisioned for AfCFTA, “the same committee could feasibly work on the provisions under both”.

Challenges aside, Robert Lisinge, who heads up the operational quality section at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, underscored the trade objectives of the AfCFTA mentioning that it could double intra-African trade by 2022.


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