One year after enacting the EU-South African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), officials from the EU and South Africa gathered in Johannesburg to review its progress and consider next steps.
The EU-SADC EPA entered into force in October 2016, and is designed to be an asymmetrical, development-oriented agreement. The accord has been signed by six of the 15 SADC members, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland.
The EPA grants all of those countries, with the exception of South Africa, duty-free, quota-free access to the European market, while improving market access for Johannesburg. The 28-nation EU ranks as the largest trading partner for these countries, with European Commission statistics placing imports at over €30 billion in minerals, metals, and other products in 2015. The block exported similar levels of engineering, automotive, and chemical products.
At this week’s meeting in Johannesburg, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told stakeholders that the 28-nation block was determined to “build on the provisions of the EU-SADC EPA that enable and even require us to be inclusive and seek systematically the involvement of civil society.”
The EU trade chief highlighted the value of bringing civil society and other stakeholders into the implementation process, including through “domestic advisory groups,” and noted that Brussels will be pushing to ink a deal with SADC EPA countries for setting up a “joint platform” bringing in additional points of view.
The EU trade official further reaffirmed the importance of the binding provisions in the trade and sustainable development chapter of the deal, referring to labour and environmental standards.
In a joint press release, South Africa Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said that “both parties should work together to ensure that the EPA contributes to the structural transformation agenda of the region, enhances trade, and promotes mutually beneficial outcomes.”
However, the South African trade chief also told South African news agency the Daily Maverick that more could be done to make better use of the deals’ terms.
“If our producers are not taking up their export quotas we need to see what it needs to meet the EU standards,” Davies said, referring specifically to agricultural exports.
Malmström, meanwhile, noted in a speech to Witwatersrand University students this week that South African agricultural exports to the EU have grown over the past year, while noting “There is much more to do to really reap the benefits.”
The year 2017 is the breakthrough year towards the speedy implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), says Stephen Karingi, Acting Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
In an interview ahead of the 10th Session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration (CRCI10) that will be held in Addis Ababa from October 31 to November 2, 2017, Mr. Karingi said important progress has been made so far towards the establishment of the CFTA.
The CFTA will bring together all African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion once it takes effect.
With the CFTA, African leaders aim to, among other things, create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.
“While recognizing that CFTA is not a silver bullet whose implementation would work out Africa’s developmental challenges, CFTA adoption and implementation is certainly a right step at the right time towards advancing Africa’s development agenda, Agenda 2063 at the helmet,” said Mr. Karingi, who’s also Director of the ECA’s Capacity Development Division.
The tenth session of the Committee and the preceding Expert Group Meetings will be devoted to topical issues of relevance to the future of CFTA.
The Committee will also review developments taking place in the international trade arena, and progress made by African countries in the areas of regional integration, infrastructure and food security, agriculture and land.
“The millions of food-insecure people on our continent; the energy and income-insecure are all eagerly looking for an ambitious outcome of the negotiations and the adoption of CFTA,” said Mr. Karingi.
The inaugural meeting of the negotiating forum was launched back in February 2016, with the commitment to complete the first phase of CFTA negotiations by the end of 2017.
In January 2017, the twenty-eighth Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit chose Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou as champion of the process.
Several meetings of the negotiating forum have since been held and there is a clear indication of progress, said Mr. Karingi.
“So against this backdrop, the 10th session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration will take place at a time of renewed commitment for accelerating the establishment of the CFTA,” he said.
“This will require an introspective understanding, from the side of member States, on the importance of the implementation of CFTA, and, hence, a speedy negotiations and adoption of a framework agreement.”
The 9th Session of the CRCI held some two years ago focused on concrete policy actions and measures required to “Enhance Productive Integration for Africa’s Structural Transformation”. The session took note that Africa’s structural transformation has lagged behind its improved economic growth performance.
It is against this backdrop that the 10th CRCI will focus on trade, regional cooperation and integration which are core pillars to ensure Africa advances in its transformative agenda.
The Session will also reiterate continued support for both the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) and the implementation of the CFTA. (UNECA/ATPC)
By our staff writer
Expolink in collaboration with Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) are organizing the from 2nd Destination Africa 2017 Exhibition and Conference November 11 - 12, 2017 at the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cairo, Egypt.
The event aims to promote African made apparel, home textiles and textiles to the international and African markets. It also enhances the regional trade activities between the different African countries, capitalizing on tariff advantages and location.
Following success of the 1st Pan-African B2B textiles sourcing event in 2016, this year 130 manufacturers from 15 African countries, and over 300 US & EU based confirmed buyers and decision makers will attend this year's edition of Destination Africa. Readymade garments, home textiles, yarn and fabrics will be displayed over a space of more than 1500 square meters, reads a statement by the organizers.
In her statement for CFTA.Now Ms. Selamawit Teshome, Coordinator at PACCI said "the first edition of Destination Africa, which took place on November 11 and 12 of 2016 in Cairo, Egypt attracted 77 manufacturers from 11 African countries, and 127 international buyers from major US and EU companies. What's impressive about last year's event is that 96% of the international buyers also committed to sourcing from Africa. Destination Africa 2017 offers ample opportunities for African textile and garment manufacturers to showcase their products, secure new contracts and expand their market share in one of the most competitive industries".
African countries have worked their way out to prove they can be the new business hub of the world combining diversity along with competitive labor costs with very good quality, proving that Africa can be the destination to build a vertically integrated business with lower costs and good quality.
‘Like last year, the 2017 Destination Africa consists of simultaneous activities, regional exhibition with African country pavilions, international conference and seminar, and networking functions’ reads a statement by the organizers.
‘PACCI is looking to head a delegate of credible textile companies from all over Africa to showcase their products and network with over 300 business delegates at the event. We are looking for possible textile companies to be included in the delegate and interested firms should contact the PACCI secretariat for conditions and procedures’ added Ms. Selamawit.
The 2017 Africa Prosperity Conference report was compiled during the two day meeting held in Accra, Ghana, on September 12-13th, 2017. It highlights the business communities' proposals to advance the CFTA. It also provides an opportunity to reflect and bring critical perspective on Africa's economic potential and challenges.
The Report is available in English and French versions.
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By Serge P. Diop
The African business community has continued to present the unified voice of business by putting in place the framework establishing the African Technical Business Advisory Committee (ATBAC) to push for the implementation of the Action Plan for boosting intra African trade, and fast tracking of the CFTA. At a meeting organized by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) in Accra, Ghana, on 12th and 13th of September 2017, business leaders and executives from Morocco to Ethiopia, Nigeria to Namibia, business leaders from 38 African countries agreed to establish an independent Advisory Committee, which will comprise the various private sector interests, such as the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, regional business councils, industry associations, women entrepreneurs and services to play an advisory role to the African Union policy organs, namely the Conference Trade Ministers and the High Level African Trade Committee comprising of Heads of States from the countries that are chairing the Regional Economic Communities.
The two day meeting, under the theme: The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)- Exploring Possibilities for Business Engagement across Africa, took stock of the current situation regarding the Continental Free Trade negotiations and the role of the private sector in advancing the CFTA. In his opening speech, Honorable Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Ghana, stressed the need for involving the private sector in the CFTA process. “The potential of trade and private sector development has not been fully realized by virtue of the peculiarities of most African countries, including MSMEs and weak purchasing power. Engaging the private sector in the policy-making process at the national, sub-regional levels and continental remains pertinent”.
“I salute the organizers of this meeting: the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), but also the backers of this Conference, notably, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa/Africa Trade Policy Center and the African Union Commission for associating the private sector to this effort” said Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso, President of PACCI and GCCI. “We all know that the role of the private sector in the CFTA negotiations has been modest. We hope such meetings will help stimulate the process of private sector engagement at the national, regional and international levels on issues of trade policy”, he said.
With just three months before the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement targeted for December 2017, we are starting to enter a new phase. The PACCI is seeing businesses across the continent play a significant role in the process of economic integration.
In this regard there is a need to coordinate the participation of the private sector and establish a formal structure for its engagement in the framework of the CFTA negotiations. Insufficient and disorganized private sector engagement may lead to protracted chaos and rejection of the agreement by businesses. PACCI has, therefore, an important role to play in leading private sector participation and engagement, in identifying business challenges and solutions to build a lasting business-oriented collaboration and accelerate the implementation of the agreement once negotiated. The African Technical Business Advisory Committee which will play the role assigned to the entity referred to as African Business Council in the CFTA structure, will comprise the private sector, industry associations and the wider community at the regional and national levels to ensure an inclusive and participatory approach to the integration process.
In this regard AU Commissioner Mr. Albert M. Muchanga noted “as we create this harmonized, attractive, large and growing market, your end of the bargain as the private sector is to give us quality, affordable and safe products and services that will facilitate increased intra-African trade.” He further called upon the private sector to work together in realizing the objectives of the Continental Free Area for the progress of Africa and to help in the lobbying of the legal text of the CFTA to be ratified with minimum delay by respective governments.
Dr. David Luke Program coordinator at the UNECA/ATPC stated this conference will stimulate the exchange of information between businesses, governments and international organizations in helping the private sector play active role in regional integration and trade initiatives. “Governments don’t trade, it is business enterprises that trade with each other. This is why at African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) we believe that the private sector must play a significant role in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the CFTA” . He stressed the need for the private sector to engage with policy makers at the national level.
“If anything today, we have spoken for ourselves. We have echoed that the CFTA legal texts are more than political and will require the attention of processes at grassroots level. For example, if we see the dispute resolution measures being discussed at continental level, they seem to be too political when in reality they should deal with the day to day business processes. Now, this deliberation has come up with sound recommendations, which in the opinion of business, are exactly things we want to see considered in the negotiation of CFTA” said Mr. Karl Chokotho, Managing Director, CMA CGM from Malawi and representative and member of COMESA business council.
The 2017 Africa Prosperity Conference confirmed that business has made significant progress in presenting a united business voice by reaffirming the role of PACCI as the continent's umbrella body for the business community and by tasking it to act as the Secretariat of the ATBAC to jumpstart its implementation.
The weekly Capital’s CFTA.now 5+1 questions is pleased to present to you Africa’s top business promoters. This week’s guest is Mr. Solomon Afework, the President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, and the 1st Vice President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2014. Mr. Solomon talks with Mahlet Yebeka from the CFTA.NOW, about the big picture vision of business in Africa, and the role of PACCI in helping to shape trade and investment in Africa.
The entry into force of World Trade Organization trade facilitation agreement, which seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders, launches a new phase for trade facilitation reforms all over the world and creates a significant boost for commerce and the multilateral trading system as a whole.
In line with this the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Trade Policy Center is organizing a consultation meeting entitled ‘Enabling Cross Border Trade - Ways Chambers of Commerce can lobby in Support of the Single Window Meeting’ to update business on the progress made in implementing the Trade Single Window system across the continent and to contribute ideas to help shape the future of import/export processes and formalities in Africa.