Third African Trade Policy Centre Steering Committee Meeting takes place in Marrakesh
The 3rd Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) under its current 2016-2020 programme cycle took place in Marrakesh, Morocco from 14-15 February hosted by the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU).
The Steering Committee is an essential part of the ATPC’s governance and is made up of key stakeholders including the African Union Commission (AUC), African Development Bank (AfDB), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), ECA Sub Regional Offices, collaborating institutions, civil society and private sector representatives. The AUC and Global Affairs Canada respectively serve as chair and vice chair of the Steering Committee.
The purpose of the meeting was to review ATPC 2017 annual report and financial statement, 2018 work programme and indicative budget, and the Centre’s Performance Management Framework (PMF) that has been developed to ensure systematic tracking of the impact of the Centre’s activities and outputs.
Mr. Taïeb Baccouche, Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union, in his welcome address, expressed appreciation for the instrumental role that ATPC is playing in contributing to the promotion of the intra African trade through its research and related activities. In particular, he highlighted ATPC’s technical support to the African Union Commission (AUC) in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) negotiations.
He further noted that Africa’s industrial development and structural transformation depend on the success of continental trade integration. This in turn is crucial for generating employment particularly for the youth and reducing poverty. He thanked the Centre and ECA’s North Africa Sub Regional Office for the technical assistance provided to UMA to support its programme for boosting intra-African trade.
For his part, Mr. Stephen Duval, First Secretary, Global Affairs Canada reiterated the importance Canada attaches to Africa’s trade integration agenda including efforts to boost intra African trade. He thanked the Centre for the progress made in putting in place a performance management framework to report more systematically on its results.
Mr. Merah Nadir, representing the Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the AUC, underscored the key role of the Centre in providing support to the AfCFTA negotiations. He noted that it will be critical to scale up this support during the implementation of the agreement as well as in the 2nd phase of the negotiations.
The ATPC Coordinator, Mr. David Luke, gave an overview of the Centre’s activities during 2017 with additional details provided by the Centre’s team members. As part of the 2018 work programme, the Centre presented its new monitoring tool for tracking AfCFTA implementation throughout the continent and impact on enterprise and business expansion and development.
The quality of the Centre’s research, policy advisory services, capacity building and training activities encompassing both intra-African and Africa’s external trade was commended. It was noted that the Centre’s new monitoring tool will be useful in generating data and evidence on the impact of the AfCFTA since implementation must now be driven by the private sector as it responds to the 2.5 trillion in market opportunities made possible by the agreement.
It was also recommended that the Centre should strengthen and build upon its partnerships with ECA’s sub-regional offices. Another key recommendation is for the Centre to continue to operate under a framework that allows for flexibility to respond to request for technical support from member states and RECs and emerging trade developments.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Stephen Karingi, officer in charge of the Regional Integration Trade Division noted that the Centre’s work on the AfCFTA is in line with ECA’s emerging strategy to serve as a think tank not only for Africa’s policy makers but also for African business. He reiterated ECA’s appreciation to Global Affairs Canada for its support to the Centre and assured the meeting that its recommendations will be transmitted to ECA’s top management.