Ethiopia: AU to lead formal talks on Africa Free Trade Area

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -The African Private Sector has urged the African Union (AU) to formally kick off talks for the creation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which is expected to lower trade barriers, PANA reported Friday.

After hosting top leaders of various trade bodies in Africa, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce said that a formal platform for consultations is urgently required.

The Chamber of Commerce and the African Union Commission (AUC) gathered African private sector players in Seychelles to discuss the roadmap towards the Continental Free Trade Area, meant to help accelerate cross-border trade within African countries.  

During the AUC engagement with the private sector on the CFTA negotiations processes, the private sector proposed the formation of an African Business Council, which would play an important role in designing the trade policies that require the attention of countries joining the CFTA area.

These would include visa regulations and immigration issues, which impede trade within Africa.

Treasure Thembisile Maphanga, AUC Director of the Department of Trade and Industry, said for Africa to double its intra-African Trade volumes – the launch of dialogue towards the creation of the CFTA in 2017, is an absolute necessity.

To achieve this milestone, the AUC official said the private sector should work with the AUC to implement the CFTA roadmap, including having the private sector to take ownership of the process establishing the African Business Council.  

Underscoring that this is an ambitious agenda, Maphanga emphasized the importance of the private sector in leapfrogging in terms of integration.  

“The meeting concluded with a communiqué that raised observations and recommendations by the private sector for further consultations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), regional business councils, regional/national chambers of commerce, among others, on the establishment of the African Business Council,” the AUC said in a statement at the close of the three-day conference Thursday in Victoria, Seychelles.

Trade policy think-tank, the International Trade Centre (ITC) urged support towards the establishment of the Pan African Business Council.

The Trade Centre supported the process of establishing a dialogue platform between the African Union and the Private Sector.

The conference was organized by the AUC in partnership with the Pan African Chamber of Commerce (PACCI) and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Objectives of the conference included enabling private sector participants to dialogue with the Commission and sharing knowledge and experience about the CFTA.
-0- PANA AO/AR 13Nov2015

13 november 2015 17:34:49

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