Negotiations for a single continental market for goods and services are on track

ABUJA, Nigeria – Negotiations on the Continental Free Trade Area are expected to conclude at the end of 2017 with a firm policy in place to benefit all countries in Africa and reduce poverty.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations are moving in the right direction and at the desired pace, with the first phase of the negotiations expected to be concluded by the end of 2017, Coordinator, African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) , David Luke , reported last week.

Speaking at the just-concluded Aid for Trade Global Review 2017, where the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) hosted a side event to unveil a publication titled: The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Africa – A Human Rights PerspectiveLuke said the CFTA negotiating principles emphasize the importance of ensuring the process is inclusive, consultative and participatory.

“The final agreement is expected to include important provisions to ensure a win-win CFTA,” Luke said as he briefed participants on the negotiations.

Human rights

“The CFTA can only be a win-win if it is consistent with the values ​​of economic justice and human rights that are embodied in Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Global Agenda 2030, the African Charter of Human Rights rights and peoples and international human rights treaties. countries have signed,” he added.

The CFTA offers the continent an important tool to achieve Africa’s poverty reduction goals contained in the continent’s Agenda 2063 and Global Agenda 2030.

The ECA Report VIII on the Africa Regional Integration Assessment (ARIA) Publicize the ZLECdemonstrates that CFTA outcomes can be “win-win” so that all countries in Africa benefit and the interests of vulnerable communities within countries are carefully considered, Luke said.

The CFTA will unite 54 African countries with a combined population of over one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of over US$3.4 trillion.

The CFTA, he added, offers a variety of opportunities that cater to the diversity of African countries, including resource-rich, agriculture-based or more industrialized countries.

On the way forward, Luke said ECA and its partners aim to continue their research on the CFTA and promote the importance of human rights in the context of African trade.

“We encourage you to share the findings of this report widely to ensure that its recommendations have a positive influence on the rest of the CFTA process, including the second phase of negotiations and the implementation and monitoring phases,” he urged the participants.

Broad consultation

Priority policy recommendations in the report include the need to ensure broad consultation and participation in CFTA negotiations and implementation; need to improve the collection of disaggregated data; need to explicitly recognize women; fully estimate potential revenue gains and losses; engage in gradual, incremental and targeted liberalisation; maintaining policy space and ensuring adjustment mechanisms to monitor and assess CFTA impacts.

The CFTA will unite 54 African countries with a combined population of over one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of over US$3.4 trillion.

With the CFTA, African leaders aim, among other things, to create a single continental market for goods and services, the free movement of businessmen and investments and to develop intra-African trade. The CFTA is also expected to improve competitiveness at the industry and business level.