The 3rd Regional Dialogue on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Accessions for Africa was held on 12 to 14 February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The focus of the meeting was on the theme of “Deepening Economic Integration in Africa through WTO Membership and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation”. Hosted by the government of Ethiopia, the three-day event was organised by the WTO Secretariat in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the World Bank.
The event provided a timely context for African acceding governments to explore the synergies between WTO membership and the AfCFTA in order to advance domestic reforms and economic development. Over 70 representatives from African WTO accession candidates and WTO members as well as representatives of international organisations, government officials, academia, experts from partner institutions and the private sector attended the event.
The implementation of the AfCFTA is set to start on 01 July, following the agreement's entry into force on 30 May. All 44 African WTO members and nine WTO observers are signatories to the AfCFTA, with 29 having ratified the agreement to date.
The event followed the 4th meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Ethiopia on 30 January which restarted its WTO accession negotiations.
The Regional Dialogue on WTO Accessions was originally dedicated to the Horn of Africa, which has the highest number of acceding countries in Africa, to share experience on WTO accessions. The previous two meetings were held in Kenya (2016) and Djibouti (2018). This is the first time the regional dialogue has extended participation to all African acceding countries.
Story by: Riaan de Lange