Africa consultation seeks to improve trade prospects for the region
Trade experts and policymakers will meet in Lusaka, Zambia (14-15 April) to consider outcomes from last year’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi and explore ways to strengthen the multilateral trading system.
Trade plays a crucial role in helping African countries drive sustainable growth and development. Strengthening a rules-based multilateral trading system and increasing opportunities through the WTO’s Doha Round has been a priority for the region.
“Boosting trade to advance sustainable development has been an urgent and long-standing priority for the Commonwealth. This regional consultation will serve to move forward inclusive trade policies and strategies that further the interests of all Commonwealth African countries, promote trade-led growth and bring about greater prosperity for the region’s people,” said Paulo Kautoke, Director of Trade at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
In 2015, Africa launched two main initiatives to boost trade: the Tripartite Free Trade Area, stretching from Cape Town to Cairo; and a Continental Free Trade Area – a pan-African trade pact, which is still under negotiation. Because continent has a high number of landlocked countries, improving regional trade integration is essential for reducing costs and improving performance.
Despite these initiatives, the African market remains fragmented; producers, traders and investors face a range of obstacles to moving goods, services, people and capital across borders. The consultation will consider practical options to advance more effective trade integration and harness external trade partnerships.
The Commonwealth continues to drive forward initiatives to boost trade for its capacity-constrained members, particularly small states, least-developed countries and Sub-Saharan African countries through the Commonwealth Trade Financing Facility and other projects.
The Hub and Spokes II programme, for example, works towards enhancing trade capacity in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. It is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Commission, the ACP Secretariat, and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.
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