Africa integration committee set to meet in Addis Ababa

The 10th Session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration (CRCI10) will be held in Addis Ababa from October 31 to November 2, 2017 under the theme ‘Implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and Shared Gains’.

The meeting will be held back-to-back with Expert Group Meetings that will review and discuss a number of crucial publications on various themes, including policy options for boosting intra-African investment through regional harmonization of investment policies and treaties; how the promotion of Africa’s industrialization can be strengthened through infrastructure development and smart industrialization through trade in the context of Africa’s transformation.

Participants will also discuss policy options needed to strengthen agribusiness and agro industries as pathways to sustainable and inclusive Africa’s transformation.

The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) agriculture agreement and trade liberalisation in the post Bali and Nairobi era will also be discussed with the main question being ‘what’s in it for Africa’s developmental and integration imperatives?’

Brexit and Africa-UK trade is another topic of interest in the workshops and it will reviewed from an African perspective as well as trade, gender and human rights mainstreaming.

The Ninth Session of the CRCI, which was held some two years ago, focused on concrete policy actions and measures required to enhance productive integration for Africa’s structural transformation.

The meeting noted that Africa’s structural transformation had lagged behind its improved economic growth performance.

Participants agreed that four inter-related processes, notably a declining share of agriculture in GDP and employment; rural-to-urban migration that stimulates the process of urbanization; the rise of a modern industrial and service economy; and, a demographic transition from high rates of births and deaths to low rates of births and deaths, defined the current structural transformation process taking place on the continent.

“Against this backdrop, and building on the previous session, the 10th session will focus on implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and shared Gains,” says Regional Integration and Trade Division’s Adama Ekberg Coulibaly.

Trade, regional cooperation and integration, he adds, are core pillars to ensure that Africa advances in its transformative agenda.

Mr. Coulibaly says the 10th Session of the CRCI will reiterate continued support for both the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) and the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

“The objectives of the meetings are to review and deliberate on recent developments, risks and prospects in specific sectorial areas as they relate to the broad area of regional integration and to make recommendations which will guide the ongoing work of Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) of the Economic Commission for Africa,” adds Mr. Coulibaly.

The programmatic areas that will be under consideration include international and intra-African trade and related negotiations, recent developments, risks and prospects in support of regional integration; food security, agriculture and land-management in Africa; and industrialization, infrastructure and investment in Africa.