TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

UNECA to continue supporting member states with trade negotiations skills

Monday, 05 December 2016

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

The inaugural Africa Trade Week ended Friday in Addis Ababa with the Economic Commission for Africa's Principal Economic Adviser, Joseph Atta-Mensah, urging the ECA and its partners to continue to empower African Member States in the art of trade negotiations as the continent strives to achieve sustainable development leading to inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication.

Speaking at the end of ATW, a multi-stakeholder platform for the advancement of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and intra-African trade, Mr. Mensah said Member States should also be supported to formulate smart trade policies that will lead to inclusive growth and development.

"We should remain resolute in supporting African member States on trade. One of the reasons why the African Trade Policy Centre was created at the ECA was to support the member States," he said.

"When Americans come to the World Trade Organization negotiations, they have one person handling one aspect of the whole trade package but when you go to an African country, there's one person handling the whole agreement so therefore let's remain resolute, let's continue to mobilise and find the resources to support African countries on the negotiations on the CFTA and also negotiations at the WTO."

Citing the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) of which 37 countries are signatories, Mr. Mensah said such forums as the Africa Trade Week allow member States and stakeholders to discuss how the continent can exploit AGOA to the fullest and how, for example, countries like Nigeria that are oil-dependent can be supported to diversity their economies.

"That is what structural transformation is all about. So going forward let's look at the recommendations and see how we can we work in tandem to ensure that we achieve what this meeting set out to in support of the advancement of the development agenda of the continent," he said.


"I'm very optimistic that that will happen if we continue to work in that spirit and the ECA is always committed to ensuring that every part of its work promotes the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development."

He said the whole week was dedicated to talking about trade and why it was important for the continent to up its game in that regard.

"For you to have sustainable growth, there has to be some engines that will provide that; trade becomes an important part of that growth," said Mr. Mensah.

"That is Africa trading with the rest of the world and intra-African trade. That is why we had thorough discussions this week about the CFTA on what factors, policies and instruments and other things that are needed in an environment to ensure that we have effective trade."

The Continental Free Trade Area 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 U.S. $3.4 trillion.

African leaders, with the CFTA, aim 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. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels on the continent. Government ministers, senior trade officials, African CEOs and executives from the private sector, representatives of Regional Economic Commission, international development agencies, civil society, development banks and academia attended the ATW.

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