ECA, ITFC, IEF helping eight countries operationalise AfCFTA

14th March 2022

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Multilateral partnership the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) have partnered on a project to help eight African countries operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by supporting the implementation of more than 30 activities in the AfCFTA strategies of Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

By assisting the implementation of priority actions formulated by the ECA, the project will help to create an environment where trade can be more efficient and inclusive in the eight beneficiary countries. By the end of the project, their capacity will have been enhanced towards tangible outcomes, such as the creation of jobs and other economic opportunities.

"The ECA values the substantive work and productive collaboration undertaken since August 2021 with ITCF and EIF to support the operationalisation of the AfCFTA. This joint project can potentially push regional trade levels up from 18% to 25% within a decade," says UN under secretary-general and ECA executive secretary Vera Songwe.

"With proper implementation, this could also lead to a $10-billion decrease in imports from outside the continent, while boosting agriculture and industrial exports by up to $45-billion or 7%, and $21-billion, or 5%, a year," she notes.

"[The ITFC] recognises the importance of facilitating trade with trade finance and trade development interventions. ITFC has, since 2008, provided about $61-billion with $30-billion extended to Africa. In addition, we support the AfCFTA national strategies implementation in our Member Countries by harmonizing customs codes with new tariff provisions, applying rules of origin, and training AfCFTA national stakeholders," says ITFC CEO Hani Salem Sonbol.

"Finally, we must also be quick together with our partners, we aim to encourage Africa's involvement in regional value chains through programs such as the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program," he adds.

“This project represents the EIF's importance in fostering regional programming, as well as deepening relationship with partners for their economic recovery. It leverages the ECA's extensive expertise and experience on the continent, building on the individual country strategies and the ITFC's valuable trade skills," comments EIF steering committee chairperson and World Trade Organisation permanent representative of Sweden Mikael Anzén.

The AfCFTA seeks to bring about the establishment of a common framework and sets of standards across the African continent to ensure trade cooperation, harmonisation and efficiency. It entered into force on 30 May 2019 for the 24 countries that deposited their instruments of ratification by this date. The operational phase was launched on 7 July 2019, the organisations said.

The AfCFTA is expected to spur intra-African trade and to have positive spillover effects on trade among African least-developed countries. It is also expected that the AfCFTA will pave the way for increased inter-African trade due to better access to the intercontinental market.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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