Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Sixth Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off


Sixth Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off

Sixth Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) kicks off
Photo credit: John Seaton Callahan

The African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the Government of Niger, is organizing the sixth Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Negotiating Forum from 5-10 June 2017 in Niamey.

In his introductory remarks, Amb. Albert M. Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, expressed his appreciation to the President of Niger, H.E. Issoufou Mahamadou for having offered, as Champion of the CFTA process, to host the 6th CFTA Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF). Commissioner Muchanga pointed out in this regard that negotiations need to be owned by Member States not by the Commission.

He underscored the importance of the work that has been undertaken so far by the Negotiating Forum and mentioned that the outcomes of the Meeting will allow the Senior Trade Officials, and African Ministers of Trade to reach consensus and have a smooth landing zone.

He urged Member States to provide relevant contributions to the process. He mentioned that the AUC Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues to be grateful for the technical support it has received from its partners to the CFTA Negotiating Structures and the overall CFTA negotiation process.

The Niger’s Minister of Trade and Private Sector, Mr. Sadou Seydou recalled the Heads of States and Governments’ Decision to conclude the CFTA by the indicative date of 2017 and pointed out that the establishment of the CFTA is a priority for them and stressed that the completion of the process is an immediate and important step in moving forward the AU Agenda 2063. According to the Hon. Minister, the CFTA is not only about Trade Liberalization.

He noted that it’s also about political will of the Leaders. He underscored that the CFTA is a political exercise in order to reinforce African fragmented markets for the well-being of the African people. “It is a political declaration and affirmation of the idea of African Unity. Without the CFTA and the African Economic Integration, the rhetoric about African Unity will remain empty words with no importance. However, if the agreement is well crafted and implemented, its huge advantages will be profitable to future generations,” he said.

Mr. Seydou also pointed out that it is important that the CFTA benefits to all countries in Africa whether they are Small, Big, Landlocked or Least Developed countries. He reminded participants the urgent need to conclude the CFTA by December 2017 and urged them to work hard in order to stick to the deadline indicated by the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments.

The objectives of the Meeting are to conclude the draft Modalities for Tariff Liberalization and Trade in Services negotiations, consider the draft Texts of the CFTA Agreement and receive the reports from the second meeting of Technical Working Groups. The meeting will commence with sessions on presentations on, among others, Trade Mapping and the Trade Analysis Tool.

The meeting is being attended by relevant experts, in the technical areas as determined by each African Union Member States together with the relevant experts from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), other members of the Continental Task Force (CTF) namely, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Meeting takes into account the first aspiration of the 10-year plan of Agenda 2063 whose objective is to see “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development”. With this in mind, the Meeting focused on fast-tracking the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the indicative date of 2017.

The 3rd Meeting of Senior Trade Officials (STO) will commence from 12th – 14th June 2017 in Niamey, Niger and its objective is to consider the outcomes of the 5th and 6th Meetings of the CFTA Negotiating Forum, the Progress Report on World Trade Organization (WTO) MC11 Preparations, as well as the Report on AGOA. Ministers of Trade and Industry will meet on 15th and 16th June 2017 to receive the report of Senior Trade Officials.

For legal texts and other documents from the CFTA negotiations, please visit our CFTA resources page.


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