Sixth African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) meeting concludes in Dakar
Commissioner Muchanga reiterates dire need for all State-Parties to establish national AfCFTA consultative and coordinating mechanisms for regular dialogue
The 6th Meeting of African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) concluded on 4 June 2018 in Dakar, Senegal, after two days of deliberation. The meeting was preceded by the 11th Meeting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Negotiating Forum and the 6th Meeting of the AfCFTA Committee of Senior Trade Officials (STO).
In delivering his welcome address, H.E. Amb. Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry congratulated the members of the new Bureau of the African Union Ministers of Trade (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, South Africa and Cote D’Ivoire) who will lead the AfCFTA process for the next twelve months.
This includes completing the remaining tasks of the Phase 1 negotiations and starting the Phase 2 negotiations centered on investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights and possibly e-commerce.
Commissioner Muchanga added: “…there are emerging risks in the international trading environment as a result of the looming trade war. Fast tracking the coming into force of the legal instruments establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area and its resultant operation can mitigate the adverse impacts of the trade war if it occurs. Africa is innocent in this looming trade war but we can still be its victims. Let us all remember that innocent victims are part of the sad history of humankind.”
Since macroeconomic stability is crucial to economic integration, Ambassador Muchanga urged trade ministers to work closely with ministers responsible for finance and development planning in promoting alignment of macroeconomic stability and adherence to the AfCFTA agenda.
Considering the need for platforms for regular dialogue, the Commissioner reiterated the dire need for all State-Parties which do not already have national AfCFTA consultative and coordinating mechanisms to take steps to establish them.
In opening the meeting, H.E Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, noted the strong momentum on the AfCFTA. “It is up to Africa to develop Africa,” the Prime Minister said, emphasizing the importance for the continent to improve on its share of global GDP and investment flows.
At the end of the two day Ministerial Meeting, the Ministers adopted the recommendations of the STO on the legally-scrubbed annexes to (a) the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods (b) the Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes (c) agreed on the five priority sectors (transport, communication, financial, tourism and business services) and the approach to be adopted in developing Schedules of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services.
The Ministers called on AUC, ECA and UNCTAD to undertake further analytical work to inform the preparation of Schedules of Tariff Concessions for Trade in Goods and to make them available to member states no later than end June 2018. This is to be followed by the preparation of templates for Schedules of Tariff Concessions for Trade in Goods and Schedules of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services by the end of July 2018.
The meeting of the 12th AfCFTA-NF tentatively scheduled to be held in September is expected to approve the templates for the operationalization of the AfCFTA. The Schedules of Tariff Concessions for Trade in Goods and Schedules of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services will be submitted to the January 2019 Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government for adoption.
The Ministers were given an audience with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal who commended the strong effort to conclude the outstanding technical issues for the operationalization of the AfCFTA. President Sall underscored the importance of the AfCFTA for the transformation of the continent. He disclosed that Senegal’s ratification process is underway and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
In addition to Member States, the meeting was also attended by Regional Economic Communities and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Commenting on the outcome, ATPC Coordinator David Luke noted that the meeting was very productive. This underscores the seriousness with which the African authorities are approaching the operationalization of the AfCFTA.
South Africa to begin AfCFTA ratification processes after a successful AMOT Dakar meeting
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe attended the 6th AMOT meeting in Dakar, Senegal. As per the recommendation of the Senior Trade Officials, Ministers considered amongst others the legally scrubbed Annexes of the Protocols to the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA and the disciplines on the modalities for Tariff Liberalisation.
Deputy Minister Magwanishe said that the conclusion of the annexes to the Protocol on Trade in Goods and the annexes to the Protocol on Dispute Settlement is a significant achievement.
“The conclusion of this work enables South Africa to rapidly commence domestic processes for signature of the AfCFTA.... We must ensure that the disciplines on modalities for tariff liberation support the creation of commercially meaningful value-chains in Africa, such that we attract investment in job creating productive sectors.”
The outcomes of the 6th AMOT meeting will be submitted and considered by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government to be held in Mauritania in July 2018.
On 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government resulted in the signing of the AfCFTA Agreement by forty-four (44) countries and the signing of the Declaration establishing the AfCFTA by forty-three (43) countries.
The AfCFTA offers an opportunity to create larger economies of scale, a bigger market and improve the prospects of the African continent to attract investment. South Africa is, therefore, committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people with a GDP of approximately US$3.3 trillion.
Beyond the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the AfCFTA will provide new export opportunities for South African products in West Africa and North Africa.
The AfCFTA is being pursued under the development integration approach that combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development to ensure that we address Africa’s productive capacity and supply side constraints, promote the diversification of Africa’s export base from dependence on raw materials to value added products, as well as alleviate the infrastructure deficit in Africa.