Nigeria, Economic Community of West African States, major world economies adopt Abuja Statement
Statement reaffirms that trade and investment are inseparable and remain indispensable “twin engines” for economic growth, modernization and development of Africa
Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), World Trade Organisation (WTO), Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) and participants at the High Level Policy and Private Sector Trade and Investment Facilitation Partnership Forum today adopted a declaration titled “The Abuja Statement” at the close of the two-day event, which saw the participation of over 30 African countries as well as major world economies.
The Forum was opened yesterday the 2nd of November by Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with the support of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah.
The Abuja Statement on “Deepening Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development” was unanimously adopted after two days of intensive deliberations between policy makers and the business community from around the world.
The Statement reaffirmed that trade and investment are inseparable and remain indispensable “twin engines” for economic growth, modernization and development of Africa.
It reiterated the need to scale up investments in “connectivity” – infrastructure – ports, transport corridors and telecommunications networks to enable Africa participate and benefit from today’s integrated and digital global economy. It supported the ongoing Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations in Africa.
The Statement said: “One of the central objectives of the High Level Forum was to examine how the WTO could contribute to facilitating the required investment – as well as trade by developing multilateral approaches to improving transparent, cutting red tape, streamlining procedures and strengthening international cooperation with the aim of expanding sustainable pro-development investment.”
Furthermore, the Statement noted: “Participants underscored the importance of enabling developing and least developing countries to increase their participation in global investment flows, including by mobilizing resources needed to address their technical and capacity constraints.”
The Statement called for a successful 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December to strengthen the WTO as a global public good that remains central to the welfare, prosperity and development of all its members.
The Statement further emphasized that policies, institutions and best practices are required for expanding the required investment in the domestic economies of African countries, the region and continent.
In his reaction, Minister Enelamah said: “The new narrative of Nigeria out there: that the country is positive, pro-development, pro-business and pro-enabling environment for business.”
On his part, the Director General/Chief Negotiator of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe stated that “This High Level Forum on Trade and Investment Facilitation held in Abuja, was an acknowledgment of Nigeria’s economic and trade policy leadership in West Africa, Africa and the global economy.”
The High Level Forum was co-hosted by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, ECOWAS in partnership with FIFD. Members of FIFD coalition are Nigeria, Argentina, China, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada, the European Union and Qatar.
Other participants at the Forum were WTO DG Roberto Azevedo; Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, President of ECOWAS Commission Marcel Alain de Souza and CEOs and business leaders from Hauwei, Procter and Gamble, Vodacom, etc.
“Deepening Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development”
The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Commission of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), in partnership with the WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD), co-hosted a “High-Level Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum for Development, in Abuja, Nigeria, from the 2nd to the 3rd November 2017. The event was opened by H.E. Professor Yemi OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Management Team. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, UNCTAD Secretary-General Mikhusa Kituyi, President of the World Economic Forum Børge Brende, ECOWAS Commission President Marcel Alain De Souza, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Commission Albert M. Muchanga, addressed the High-Level Forum, as did CEOs and Senior Business Leaders from Vodacom, Huawei, and Procter & Gamble. Ministers and senior trade and investment officials from over 30 African countries actively participated.
The High-Level Forum met at a time of critical challenges as well as enormous opportunities in Africa. A dramatic increase in population, the mounting pressure for jobs, and the pressing need to expand prosperity across the continent are accompanied with a quantum potential to accelerate industrialization, leap frog technological development, and leverage Africa’s demographic dividend for sustained and inclusive growth. Africa is emerging as the next global growth frontier and realizing this potential must be a major priority, not just for Africa, but for the global economy as a whole.
The High-Level Forum created a platform that brought together African investment and trade decision-makers, partners from other regions of the global economy, as well as key private sector representatives, to discuss these challenges and opportunities, and to explore how more cooperative approaches to investment and trade facilitation could be harnessed for win-win outcomes.
A critical starting point for the exchanges and sharing of experiences was the reaffirmation that trade and investment are inseparable and remain indispensable ‘twin engines’ for economic growth, modernization, and development in Africa as in the wider global economy. Only by scaling up investments in ‘connectivity’ infrastructure – ports, transport corridors, telecommunications networks – could African countries participate in, and benefit from, today’s integrated and digital global economy. Only by increasing, intensively, investments in globally competitive industries, services, and start-ups – from both foreign and domestic sources – could African countries generate the resources required to advance education, improve health care, reinvest in innovation, and generate employment opportunities for millions of young people. Participants acknowledged – and reiterated – the United Nations’ projection that developing countries would need an additional US$ 2.5 trillion in investment annually to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The High-Level Forum equally endorsed the proposition that higher levels of domestic security and stability would be achieved with higher levels of welfare, prosperity and job creation, facilitated by greater intensity in trade and investment facilitation.
The High-Level Forum noted that expanding this required investment – and the global networks, know-how, and technologies that accompany it - required complementary polices, institutions, and best practices, domestically, and regional and international cooperation. They underscored the urgent necessity of creating a favorable business climate and of implementing sound market-driven domestic policies. They also highlighted the importance of advancing regional and international co-operation to create a more transparent, efficient, and predictable environment for investment and trade, as well as to ensure that their benefits are widely shared.
One of the central objectives of the High-Level Forum was to examine how the WTO could contribute to facilitating required investment - as well as trade – by developing multilateral approaches to improving transparency, cutting red tape, streamlining procedures, and strengthening international co-operation, with the aim of expanding sustainable and pro-development investment. Participants underscored the importance of enabling developing and least-developing countries to increase their participation in global investment flows, including by mobilizing the resources needed to address their technical and capacity constraints. To this end, participants urged WTO Members to undertake more focused discussions aimed at developing a multilateral framework to facilitate investment for development. They also encouraged the WTO to cooperate closely with other relevant international organizations, such UNCTAD, and regional partners, such as ECOWAS, to ensure mutually supportive, pro-development approaches to this critical issue.
More broadly, the High-Level Forum called for a successful Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires from 10-13 December 2017 to strengthen the WTO as a global public good that remains central to the welfare, prosperity, and development of all its Members. As a valuable and necessary complement to strengthening the global trading system, participants also supported ongoing negotiations to establish the “Continental Free Trade Area” (CFTA) – a Single Market for Trade in Goods and Services across Africa – and called on Members of the African Union (AU) to advance this strategic objective.
The High-Level Forum thanked the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the ECOWAS Commission for hosting this High-Level Forum on Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development. In this context, the High-Level Forum acknowledged and welcomed the determined efforts by the Nigerian Government on Trade and Investment Facilitation and on improving the business environment as well as the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for growth in Nigeria. The High-Level Forum also acknowledged the efforts of the ECOWAS Commission at regional integration and the facilitation of trade and investment for growth and job creation.
The High-Level Forum requested the Federal Republic of Nigeria to circulate, as a document of the WTO General Council and the Eleventh Ministerial Conference, this Abuja Statement on: “Deepening Africa’s Integration in the Global Economy through Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development”
Azevêdo highlights important role of trade and investment in promoting sustainable development
Extracts from the speech by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo
“Today, trade plays an important role in the economy of developing countries. To have an idea, trade now represents 34 per cent of developing countries' GDP on average – compared to 20 per cent for advanced countries.
And the fastest-rising engines when it comes to trade and investment today are not in Europe or North America, but in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
China, for example, is now the world's largest exporter and second largest foreign investor; thirty years ago, it ranked 32nd in world trade.
And this remarkable story of trade and investment-led development includes countries of all sizes and regions – from Ethiopia and Indonesia, to Ghana and Cambodia.
This is very positive.
However, for trade to play its full part, the right conditions need to be in place. Many elements are involved in this mix.
This includes physical connectivity. If you're selling goods, you need the hard infrastructure which allows you to ship them to your buyer.
And to support this connectivity we need the appropriate soft infrastructure. That means a regulatory environment which works to facilitate trade.
Yet, there is much to be done to ensure that all can participate and compete. Connectivity remains a major obstacle in many places.
For example, Africa's infrastructure investment needs are estimated at about 120-150 billion dollars annually – with a financing gap of about 60-80 billion dollars per year.
Globally, the UN estimates that developing countries alone will need an additional 2.5 trillion dollars annually in foreign and domestic investment if they are to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
This situation deserves our attention. Bridging these gaps could help reduce Africa's trade costs, boost its competitiveness, diversification, industrialization, and participation in global trade.
It can also help to spread the benefits of trade more widely, reaching more people and leveraging trade to promote growth and development.
Many governments simply may not have the public resources to build the infrastructure they need. And therefore a large part of infrastructure investments will need to come from other partners.
And let me stress that infrastructure is just part of this picture. Investments will also help overcome supply side constraints, promoting the diversification of the productive structure, reducing dependency on basic commodity exports, and adding value to the exported product.
Also, investments improve access to more advanced technologies, production techniques, and managerial methods.
Countries would be able to leapfrog steps towards a more modern economy. There will also be a positive impact on the capacity and skills of the work force, who will have access to more advanced and better paying jobs.
Steps to create a more enabling environment for investments would make these countries more attractive locations for productive and sustainable FDI - both in infrastructure and in productive assets. If the conditions are right, we'll have a win-win situation.
For these reasons and many others, I think that today's discussion about investment facilitation is very important.
We need to share ideas, exchange insights, and learn from one another's experiences to ensure these forces can work together to create more opportunities particularly for developing countries.
And I think it is very positive that we have some important elements to build on in this discussion.
Africa, for example, is a case in point.
Many African countries are engaged in facilitating trade and investment – and will showcase their experience during this Forum. There are some interesting initiatives being implemented, which can help inspire other solutions in the continent.
For example, last year President Buhari launched the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) – chaired by Vice President Osinbajo. This initiative aims to cut red tape, remove bottlenecks, coordinate policies and facilitate doing business in Nigeria.
Many other countries are taking similar coordinated steps to facilitate trade and investment – for example by creating electronic “single windows" for both investment and trade.
Furthermore, some countries represented here are also engaged in the negotiation of a Continental Free Trade Area and in developing a parallel Pan African Investment Code.
These steps can go a long way in creating a more enabling environment for investment in Africa.
And I think that they also showcase how regional integration and investment flows are clearly connected as well, and how regional cooperation can help advance these efforts....
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that this Forum is indeed an important opportunity to help provide useful inputs to that debate.
Working together, we can ensure that we seize all of the tools available to us in the search for stronger growth and more sustainable development – in Africa and around the globe.
So let me congratulate once more the Government of Nigeria, organizers of this event, for their initiative and vision.”