ECA says African free-trade zone must change lives, reduce poverty
The Assessing Regional Integration in Africa report recommends the AfCFTA should be effectively operationalised and leveraged as a vehicle for economic development.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched the 9th edition of the Assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA IX) report during the African Business Forum in Niamey, Niger, on July 6. The report was launched ahead of the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the AU, taking place in Niamey, where African leaders are meeting to commence the process of operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Titled “Next Steps for the African Continental Free Trade Area,” ARIA IX argues that the AfCFTA must change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to economic development in Africa. President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AfCFTA agreement on Sunday as Nigeria became the 53rd state on the continent to append its signature to the document.
The Executive Secretary of the ECA, Vera Songwe, said for AfCFTA to work, competition, industrial policies and intellectual property rights must work effectively. The AfCFTA investment protocol presents an opportunity for AU member-states to revamp the subsisting investment policy landscape.
The ECA, in a statement released on Monday, said the implementation of the AfCFTA will help to validate the AU and its Agenda 2063. It is also a litmus test for African countries’ commitment to economic integration.
The Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituyi, also highlighted “competition, investment and intellectual property rights” as crucial requirements in the next phase of the AfCFTA. Kituyi urged the African business community to “take ownership of the integration effort” on the continent.
The report said the AfCFTA must be effectively operationalised, but also supported with complementary measures that leverage it as a vehicle for economic development. ARIA IX recommends that the implementation of AfCFTA will be more effective if a national AfCFTA committee is set up by each member-state ministry of trade.
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