ADDIS ABEBA – Senegal is set to host a forum that will focus on issues related to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The regional forum, taking place on 24 and 25 June in Dakar, will also touch upon the trade pact’s impact on the regions of West and Central Africa.
It is also expected to be a space for regional and multi-stakeholder dialogue on issues related to the implementation of the AfCFTA in the French-speaking Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
Participants including policymakers, businesses, civil society organizations, and research institutions will be invited to make recommendations on the ways and means to implement the AfCFTA, according to one of the organizers Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
“This forum aims to foster constructive exchanges to learn from other regional integration frameworks and ultimately assess the extent to which Regional Economic Communities can serve as a foundation for unlocking the trade potential of the AfCFTA in West and Central Africa,” says Adeyinka Adeyemi, ECA Senior Adviser to the African Trade Policy Center.
AfCFTA is the biggest free trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. The agreement aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspeople and investments.
In March 2018, 44 African leaders signed an agreement to ratify AfCFTA, and half of that number ratified the deal this year, meeting the threshold to officially put the wheels in motion.
“The effective implementation of the AfCFTA has a number of strengths and also challenges which are specific to the West and Central African region,” Adeyemi said. “These regional peculiarities must be evaluated in consultation with all the key players so that they can benefit fully from a continental free trade area”.
Once in place, the AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion USD —making it the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization seven decades ago.
By Our Staff Writer