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The two day consultative meeting of the ‘Enabling Cross Border Trade – ways chambers of commerce can lobby in support of the single window’ ended in Addis Ababa on Tuesday May 23, 2017 with an urgent emphasis on the need to carefully planned and executed preparatory work by African governments to greatly improve the probability of success of single window system. Further efforts to Governments suite in preparing to Single Window products should take into consideration Single Window Interoperability to facilitate interconnectivity and interoperability with national (or regional) Single Windows, participants pointed out in their recommendations following the two days of consultation.

The meeting was organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Trade Policy Center (UNECA/ATPC) at the United Nations Conference Center on the 22-23 May, 2017.

Trading under the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is scheduled to begin on 1 July 2020. Hailed as a game-changing agreement, with the potential to propel Africa’s socio-economic transformation, the AfCFTA will play a significant role in anchoring the 17 SDGs.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has recognized the unparalleled opportunities inherent in the AfCFTA, but is also cognizant that these opportunities will not accrue automatically. This article describes how UNECA is working to ensure that African countries can seize the benefits offered by the AfCFTA, especially the benefit of greater gender equality.

The AfCFTA framework agreement includes an objective of gender equality (Article 3(e)). Gender mainstreaming promotes this objective by advancing the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in an integrated continental market. Gender mainstreaming also supports delivery on range of sustainable development imperatives linked to the 2030 Agenda. Indeed, gender mainstreaming embodies the most important promise of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind. The 2030 Agenda also makes clear that there can be no sustainable development without gender equality.

Confronted with deeply-rooted gender based discrimination and pervasive inequalities, women across the region are disproportionately among the left behind. At the same time, African women are a powerful force for development, whose strength and leadership remain critical to the ultimate success of the AfCFTA.

What does “gender mainstreaming” mean as part of implementing the free trade area? First, mainstreaming entails analyzing the gender dynamics for women in the formal and informal economy. This process offers a systematic approach to identifying gender-specific barriers confronting female traders, producers, entrepreneurs, and wage-workers in agriculture, manufacturing and services- as sectors which are expected to gain new trade opportunities through the AfCFTA. It is crucial to consider  the main factors leading to gender segregation in access to economic opportunities in priority economic sectors, together with gender differences in access to productive inputs (particularly finance).

In 2019, UNECA provided support to 15 African countries to develop national strategies for implementing the AfCFTA. Gender mainstreaming is central to the design of these national strategies (see full UNECA working paper). In particular, gender mainstreaming is guiding the development of gender-responsive policies and context-specific interventions to drive female empowerment in the AfCFTA. This in turn directly supports the realization of SDG 5 (gender equality) as a prerequisite for catalyzing progress across all the SDG and targets. Because women are known to invest most of their incomes (90% on average) back in their families (notably in education and health) and communities, identifying interventions to increase the economic power of women through employment can raise living standards for all. Higher living standards in turn contribute to SDG 1 (no poverty), as well as to improved nutrition (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3) and quality education (SDG 4) outcomes for women and those who depend on them.

Advancing women’s participation in agriculture under the AfCFTA directly supports increased agricultural productivity and food security targets in SDG 2. Likewise, drawing attention to gender-specific effects of export-oriented industrialization could support opportunities for women to hold higher-value addition employment in manufacturing. Raising gender-related concerns regarding the potential impact on women of trade in services liberalization supports the participation of women in higher-skilled services jobs. This in turn gives impetus to the decent work (SDG 8) and industrialization (SDG 9) agenda, as well as to SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). Highlighting the need for empowering women with the required ICT, technical education, skills development and training to access higher-skilled manufacturing and services jobs further contributes to providing education opportunities (SDG 4).

Women account for the vast majority of informal cross-border traders. If governments can identify the priority needs of female informal cross-border traders, they can also devise gender-responsive trade facilitation measures that respond to those needs, and then assist them to enter the formal sector (SDG 8). Similarly, in supporting women-owned informal businesses to participate more effectively in intra-African trade, trade facilitation measures directly contribute to meeting SDG target 8.3 on the formalization and growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The AfCFTA can play a powerful role in empowering women and advancing global goals on gender equality. Gender mainstreaming in AfCFTA National Strategies is the building block to operationalizing these goals, turning the transformative promise of the AfCFTA into tangible progress for African women.

Source: www.tralac.org

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In recent years, Sub-Saharan Africa has increasingly traded old friends, like the US and the European Union, for new ones in emerging markets. Since 2006, the region’s exports to the US have declined by 66%, while exports to countries such as Russia and Turkey have doubled and tripled respectively. This shift in partnerships comes as Africa embarks on a new era buoyed by the promise of the AfCFTA, the landmark free trade agreement that will become operational in 2020, as well as increased visa openness and harmonization of monetary policy through West Africa’s new Eco currency.

In 2020, it is imperative that African nations build on the foundations for strong partnerships established in recent years with their emerging market counterparts in Russia, India and the UAE. Given the IMF’s lowered African growth projections because of US-China trade tensions, Brexit and slowing Chinese growth, courting a wider network of partners will be critical for achieving the ambitious plans for 2020, 2025 and 2030 set out by countries from Ghana to Tanzania and the Ivory Coast – major economies in the region that all head to the polls later this year. [The authors, Isaac Kwaku Fokuo and Akinyi Ochieng, are attached to the Botho Emerging Markets Group]

Source: Herald.co.zw

A senior official of the African Union (AU) has noted that leveraging the African continental free trade area (AfCFTA) contributes to silencing the guns in Africa, through the process of delivering broad-based prosperity on the continent.

The 33rd AU summit is being held under the theme, Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development, at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Speaking to the press last Thursday in the framework of the summit, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, said the AfCFTA, as a development programme, broadens policy space for development and compliments the programme of silencing the guns.

“The advocates of free trade have long argued that its benefits are not merely economic. The advocates advise us that free trade also encourages people and nations to live in peace with one another. They also point out that free trade reduces the possibilities of war by making nations more economically interdependent because free trade makes it more profitable for people of one nation to produce goods and services for people of another nation,” he said.

Stating that silencing the guns in Africa is aimed at creating conducive environment for development, the Commissioner underlined the need to implement the AfCFTA agreement effectively in order to successfully silence the guns.

“With the AfCFTA working and producing tangible benefits, Africa will be able to create conditions for ending poverty and unemployment. Poverty and unemployment are some of the key factors that generate social and political tensions, which if left to linger, can transform into tension and conflicts,” noted the Commissioner.

Fifty-four of the 55 AU member states have signed the agreement establishing the AfCFTA, and 28 countries have ratified and deposited the instruments of ratifications with the AU.

Speaking of the progress on the ratifications of AfCFTA agreement, the AU Commissioner said that more are expected to deposit instruments of ratifications during the summit, indicating that things are going in the right direction.

“When we look at the historical trend, it takes five years for the AU legal instruments to enter into force. The AfCFTA has been an exception. We opened for signature on the 21st March 2018 and in the period of one year, one month, one week, and one day, we got the minimum 22 ratifications required for it to enter into force. This shows the strong political commitment of member states and governments have towards this agreement. So, we are confident that we are moving in the right direction and we are taking step,” he said.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.

It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation and instruments across the RECs (regional economic communities) and across Africa in general.

The AfCFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.

The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 AU member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.

In terms of numbers of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced. – Xinhua

The consotium of partners - Initiative Africa (IA), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and PACCI held their first physical meeting with representatives of the team in Addis Abeba, January 27th - 31st, 2020.

The discussion was on the implementation phase of the newly signed project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The project titled: EMPOWERING MARGINAL ECONOMIC ACTORS THROUGH POLICY REFORM FROM THE BOTTOM-UP, will focus on Ethiopia with PACCI's main role being on Public Private Dialogue, Capacity Building of Business Membership Organisations, Ethiopia's WTO accession and AfCFTA sensitization backed with export promotions.

Project Timeline: 2020 - 2022.

Source: tralac.org

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This particular study – AfCFTA conditions for Success – provides both an analytical framework as well as an actual analysis on local and international factors likely to either augment or hinder implementation of the AfCFTA, and therefore gives an evidence-based understanding and capacity to make specific local policy and investment decisions. The study can further guide interventions aimed at strengthening and aligning related institutional and human capital needs using integrated, cross-sector and transboundary approaches. Using the International Futures Modelling Tool, the study presents, for planners, policy makers and development specialists, a uniquely African perspective and foresight analysis to help in evidence-based prioritization and determining of national or regional AfCFTA implementation pathways – also connecting between individual and collective (regional) Member States’ implementation efforts. Success of the AfCFTA is cardinal to the success of Agenda 2063.

Tariffs: Today, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, and Democratic Republic of the Congo are all estimated to depend on intra-African tariffs for more than 5% of total government revenue. Figure 3 shows that at its peak in 2025, 24 countries are projected to experience net losses in revenue greater than 1% relative to the Current Path. These intra-African tariff-dependent countries are likely to face a challenging period of adjustment over the medium term. However, most countries that experience net revenue losses also quickly enjoy GDP gains that fully offset those losses.

At the continental level, by the mid-2030s, total gains surpass and begin to rapidly outpace losses, such that by 2063 African economies are projected to receive an additional $500bn in annual revenue relative to a scenario without AfCFTA. This value is roughly 140 times the amount necessary to compensate the few countries that do not fully make up tariff revenue losses. In addition, while countries heavily dependent on intra-African trade tariff revenues will see short-run disruptions to government revenue generation, they also experience much greater long-term economic gains relative to countries that have less of a short-run dependence on trade tariff revenue.

While the GDP and revenue gains suggested by this analysis are more than enough to outweigh the losses, since intra-African tariffs are already relatively low, their removal alone may not be enough to generate transformative change and significantly increase intra-African trade.


Source: www.ktpress.rw

Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation in collaboration with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), have announced a planned roadshow that will sensitise the business community on the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

In March 2018, Rwanda witnessed the historic signing of the AfCFTA – a continental single market set to connect 1.3 billion populations. The single market will come into force in July this year.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has been championing the private sector to boost the market through different initiatives such as Intra-African Trade Fair.

Rwanda won the ticket to host this year’s IATF2020 which is expected to trigger deals worth $40 billion.

Ahead of the Trade Fair, Afreximbank and PSF organised the road show that will

Rwandan private sector how it can become a primary beneficiary of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will provide significant opportunities to access the largely untapped markets and sectors in an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.

The roadshow will be conducted on February 11 and will provide members of the private sector in the country the substantial benefits of attending the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) which will take place in Kigali from 1 to 7 September 2020.

According to Afreximbank, Rwandan businesses can take advantage of the AfCFTA by establishing new networks of business buyers and sellers from across the African continent, enabling the country to significantly expand its intra-African trade.

In a statement released on Thursday, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “Rwanda’s economic transformation is undoubtedly one of Africa’s success stories. Rwandan businesses can further capitalise on this achievement by positioning themselves to take full advantage of the AfCFTA.”

He said that Rwanda’s removal of intra-African trade tariffs, progressive dismantling of non-tariff barriers and protectionism, are good examples that will create a genuine single continental market.

“By attending IATF2020, they will gain an unrivalled opportunity to showcase their goods and services to buyers from across the African continent, whilst establishing new trade and investment links with a wide network of private and public sector players from more than 55 different countries.”

IATF2020 is expected to be Africa’s main trade event of 2020 and is aimed at providing a marketplace for buyers and sellers of products and services from Africa and beyond to meet and explore business opportunities.

The Management of Invest in Africa (IIA) is empowering Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them explore opportunities that come with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The AfCFTA becomes operational on June 1st, 2020 and it is expected to create the world’s largest free trade zone with over one billion consumers, a potential $3 trillion economy and zero tariffs on goods traded across countries. Mr Clarence Nartey, the Country Director of IIA, said IIA was investing to adequately prepare its SMEs to harness the market opportunities to be provided by the agreement. He said there was still work to be done to educate and sensitise the private sector on both the opportunities and threats that the agreement comes with and work to develop a competitive AfCFTA strategy. He said from an IIA perspective, the good news was that some of its suppliers ware already engaged in Pan-African trade – equivalent to 15 percent of IIA’s active supplier pool. “However, this is not enough and the organisation is committed to increasing this to 40 percent in a few years,” he added. Mr Nartey said the 40 per cent target would be done through rolling out its AfDB- sponsored flagship Business Linkage Programme. The programme focuses on integrating SMEs into supply chains of multinational companies and large local organisations by improving their competitiveness and building their long-term capacity, across eleven countries. He said they would also leverage on Information Communication Technology in the form of IIAs digital infrastructure, an online marketplace that connects 50 buyers and 5,500 suppliers across Africa. It will accelerate cross-border and regional value chain integration and rapidly scaling up SMEs through its home grown buyer project all of which should position IIA’s SMEs to be regionally competitive. Mr Nartey said the awards scheme honours indigenous businesses, who have demonstrated entrepreneurial excellence and developed the capacity to participate in supply chains of large local and international companies. Mr David Ofosu Dorte, the Executive Chairman of AB & David Africa, said there was the need for SMEs to enhance their competitiveness by upgrading the standards of their products and expanding production capacity in order to maximise the benefits from AfCFTA. He said looking presently at the private sector, they are not prepared to take advantage of the agreement and urged the players to be abreast with the agreement and take advantage of it. “The private sector must take charge and work with government to take full advantage of the agreement,” he added. Mr Dorte said it was encouraging to see the heads of states of the African continent trying to promote and boost intra-African trade among themselves to develop the continent. Mr Sebastian Okeke, the Country Manager of African Development Bank Group (AfDB), expressed the bank’s commitment to continue its partnership with IIA through the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance to support the growth of Ghanaian SMEs and promote local content. Mr Okeke said through the partnership, some SMEs in the agricultural, oil and gas, financial services and telecommunication sectors have been supported with access to skills, market and finance. He said the business skills of more than 300 SMEs have also been enhanced and over $2 million worth of credit had been secured for them through IIAs partner banks. The awardees include Young Entrepreneur of the Year- BTL Africa Marketing Limited, Sustainable Business of the Year- Jekora Ventures, Business Transformation- Aidec Holdings Limited, and Business Linkage- Lightingale Limited. Others are, Business Technology Growth- Consolidated Shipping Agencies Limited, Business Innovation of the Year- Agriaccess Ghana Limited, Mentorship Recognition- Agriaccess Ghana Limited and Scale-Up Business of the Year – Western Premium Company Limited. The IIA Star Award for Excellence was awarded to Joissam Ghana Limited.

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The Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 2009 by 35 founding national business chambers to influence government policy and create a better operating environment for business.

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