The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says it will continue to work closely with its member States, the African Union Commission and other key stakeholders towards the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
AfCFTA is expected to deepen and expand intra-African trade and help the continent build forward better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s statement announcing funding of $15.2 million to the ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said the AfCFTA provided an excellent policy framework for Africa to build inclusive and resilient economies post-COVID-19.
To make this happen, she said, the ECA will continue to work on innovative ways to help address Africa’s development challenges by assisting countries and regions to domesticate the AfCFTA within their own realities to make it implementable.
“Canada’s on-going contribution to this trade-related technical assistance has enabled a significant expansion of ECA’s support to the AfCFTA process, particularly focusing on inclusion and gender equality as specific objectives of the grant agreement,” Ms. Songwe said.
She added the ECA was grateful for Canada’s continuing support to the ECA, particularly its work in the implementation of the AfCFTA agenda.
“With Canada’s funding support, and working closely with AU member States, the African Union Commission and other key stakeholders on the continent, we will continue to strive for the achievement of a more gender-inclusive trade agenda for Africa. We will also continue to pay attention to the role of the private sector in the implementation of the AfCFTA,” the ECA Executive Secretary said.
For his part, ATPC Coordinator, David Luke, said: “The grant will enable the Centre to carry out analytical work, training and capacity building interventions for reducing trade barriers within Africa, including for women entrepreneurs and traders; and develop climate-friendly strategies for a forward-looking implementation of the AfCFTA.”
Mr. Trudeau made the announcement at the recently concluded Summit on Financing African Economies that was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France. He said the Canadian funds will support the implementation of the AfCFTA, a key milestone in African economic integration that will create jobs and growth across the continent.
The AfCFTA is set to become the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) in the global economy, covering a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion, expected to reach US$29 trillion by 2050.
In his summit address, Prime Minister Trudeau announced additional support for hard-hit African economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including $5 million to the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Program through the World Bank, to strengthen national and regional capacity for disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness in West Africa, and to provide immediate and effective response in the event of emergencies.
“We can’t defeat this virus and build back better at home unless all countries have the resources to respond to and recover from this global challenge. With some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and with some of the youngest populations on the planet, Africa’s success and recovery is key to our shared future. Only together can we lay the foundations of a better world,” he said.
The Summit on Financing African Economies brought together heads of state and government from Africa and around the world to respond to the specific financing needs to support a prompt, green, sustainable and inclusive recovery in Africa.