The ECOWAS Commission and the ECA organize a technical review of the draft regional strategy for the implementation of the AfCFTA
The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), organized a meeting from 23 to 25 November 2021 in Abidjan – Côte d’Ivoire, to review the draft regional strategy for implementation of AfCFTA as part of preparations for a validation workshop by ECOWAS Member States.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which entered into force in May 2019, will create the largest free trade area in the world. The AfCFTA is estimated to connect 1.3 billion people in 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $ 3.4 trillion.
In his opening speech, the representative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Amadou DIOUF underlined the initiatives undertaken by the ECA for the implementation of the AfCFTA, in particular the support to the ‘development of national implementation strategies for the AfCFTA. He underlined the role of Regional Economic Communities as cornerstones of African economic integration and congratulated the ECOWAS Commission for launching the development of the regional implementation strategy that would complement the efforts made at the regional level. national.
Speaking on behalf of Mr. Tei KONZI, Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Kolawole SOFOLA, Acting Director of Trade, recalled the coordination role of the Commission of ECOWAS in the negotiation and implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement. While emphasizing the importance of developing implementation strategies, he stressed the need to strengthen regional and continental value chains. He added that the development of an ECOWAS regional implementation strategy will ensure a coordinated, integrated and coherent implementation of the AfCFTA.
Prof. Loesse Jacques ESSO, Chief of Staff, representing Mr. DIARRASSOUBA, Minister of Trade and Industry of Côte d’Ivoire, underlined the low level of intra-African trade which accounts for 16% in 2021 according to the World Bank . He added that the launch of the AfCFTA demonstrates the political commitment of African heads of state to use intra-African trade to address the challenges of structural transformation of economies, create opportunities for youth employment and creation. wealth, as well as poverty reduction. In addition, he highlighted the efforts made by the Ivorian authorities to lay the foundations for the implementation of the AfCFTA, including the creation of the AfCFTA Committee and the development of a national implementation strategy.
The meeting brought together experts from ECOWAS Member States, as well as officials from the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions. Participating partners included ECA, UNDP and GIZ.