Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Continental Free Trade Area


Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Continental Free Trade Area

Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Continental Free Trade Area
Photo credit: AFP

Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, welcomes the successful conclusion of 4th Meeting of the Ministers of Trade of the African Union member states, held from 1-2 December 2017 in Niamey, Niger.

The Niamey meeting concluded the first phase of the negotiations on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), in accordance with the decision adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government in June 2015. More specifically, the Trade Ministers endorsed the Agreement Establishing the CFTA, together with the Protocol on Trade in Services. They also agreed on the creation of an autonomous CFTA Secretariat.

The Chairperson commends President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger, who is the African Union Champion for the CFTA, for his leadership and commitment, which made this milestone possible. He pays tribute to the Ministers, Senior Officials and Chief Negotiators of the Member States, as well as to the representatives of the Regional Economic Communities, for their hard work throughout months of negotiations driven by the spirit of pan-Africanism and commitment to the collective interest of the continent.

Finally, he expresses gratitude to the African Union technical partners, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the African Development Bank, whose support to the CFTA negotiations was invaluable.

In view of the historic progress achieved and the urgent need to sign and ratify the CFTA agreement, President Issoufou Mahamadou will recommend to his peers the adoption and signing of the CFTA Agreement, as well as of its Protocols and Annexes.

Following appropriate consultations, the Chairperson of the Commission intends to appoint a team of envoys to sensitize member states on the need to expeditiously sign and ratify the Agreement and its Protocol, once these instruments have been adopted by the Assembly of the Union. These envoys will also reach out to other key stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to explain the benefits of the CFTA and ensure full ownership of the implementation process.

The CFTA, which is a flagship project of Agenda 2063, will make it possible to create a market of over 1 billion 200 million people. Its implementation will significantly increase intra-African trade, which stands currently at 16%, in contrast to much higher levels in Asia, Europe, and North America; create economies of scale and regional value chains; and augment job opportunities, at a time when renewed efforts are required to meet the needs of the Africa’s youth and fully harness the demographic dividend.

There will be a second phase of negotiations focusing on draft protocols on competition, intellectual property rights and investment.

It should be recalled that the Chairperson of the Commission took part in the opening ceremony of the meeting of the Ministers of Trade, along with President Issoufou Mahamadou, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, and the Chairperson of the African Union Ministers of Trade, Aïsha Abubakar, who is the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The African Union delegation to the meeting was led by Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, who played a critical role in the negotiations.


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