Ethiopia: AU seeks greater private sector voice to command regional trading bloc

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The African Union (AU) will position the private sector to have an active voice on regional affairs and the running of the single trading bloc under the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) when it forms an African Business Council, a senior AU official said on Thursday.

AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga said the organisation has engaged a private consultant to begin work on the creation of the Business Council, whose mandate would include bringing major policies and business regulations to the attention of the AU under the CFTA.

“The African Business Council would work with the private sector to mainstream policies such as the gender policies. We would like to better protect women traders who regularly get in trouble with customs officials at border posts. The women are severely affected by other regulations,” Muchanga said in remarks during the 4th High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

The AU has been pushing on with negotiations towards the formation of the Continental Free Trade Area, one of the key outcomes of a previous AU Summit on expanding trade between African countries.

The African countries agreed to consider the formation of a single trading bloc in response to the foreign domination of the African markets. The talks on the free trade area are meant to conclude by 2017.

However, this year, the African Union Summit, which has adopted a series of declarations, including those on advancing sciences, agriculture and now focused on the role of the women and the youth, wants particular attention on the rights of women to access equal job opportunity and pay.

Business Councils normally gather together key industry leaders as a lobby group for policy changes and regulations which create positive impact on the conditions of doing business in specific jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, African business leaders have often decried the lack of a single regulatory authority to check the excesses of state agencies implementing policies which negatively affect businesses.

The AU believes unlocking restrictive business practices especially those which exclude girls and young women from effectively playing their roles in the national economies, leads directly to losses of 9% equivalent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an impact likely to be felt for much longer.

Muchanga said to deal with the challenges, new measures were required to cushion the African youth from the adverse impact of the ongoing global investments in new technologies.

The Trade Commissioner said that while girls and young women continued to play only marginal rules in the national economies, new technologies, including the use of robots in the manufacturing sector and other factories made it much harder to create additional jobs for the youthful men and women.
-0- PANA AO/MA 30June2017

30 june 2017 06:05:28

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