ADDIS ABEBA – A two-day regional trade forum is being held in Ethiopia’s capital with a focus on the implementation of the historic African Continental Free Trade Agreement that went into force on 30 May.
The theme of the forum is ‘AfCFTA Implementation: Breaking Down Geographical, Logistical and Regulatory Barriers to Trade and Investment in the Horn to Boost Industrialization: A Focus on the Pharmaceutical Industry’, said the organizers.
Speaking on the eve of the meeting on Wednesday, Stephen Karingi, Director of the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Regional Integration and Trade Division, said much work now needs to be done now that the AfCFTA is in force.
“These regional trade forums, besides providing platforms for member States, business communities, researchers and others to access cutting-edge evidence-based policy analysis and briefs, methodologies and tools to support shared gains from the AfCFTA, will allow the region to discuss what needs to be put in place in terms of policies to ensure every African benefit,” Karingi said.
He said sessions are focusing on a number of sub-themes, including boosting competitiveness and job creation in the Horn of Africa with pharmaceuticals as an example; stocktaking – completing the investment, competition and intellectual property protocols of the Phase II agenda; broadening policy space and taking advantage of flexibilities, will encourage participants to expand their thinking and explore fresh opportunities under the new continental market.
“Thanks to the AfCFTA, Africa is now in a position to say market size is no longer an issue for pharmaceutical manufacturers to engage in, for example, the local production of generic medicines on the continent,” the ECA Director noted.
Once all 55 countries have joined, the African Continental Free Trade Area will cover at least 1.2 billion people and over $3 trillion in GDP.
In addition to creating a massive market, the AfCFTA also eliminates 90 percent of tariffs which proponents say will encourage foreign direct investment by creating and easing entry into a larger, single, seamless market for goods and services.
The forum is being organized by the ECA, the Government of Ethiopia, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the European Union (EU) in collaboration with their partners IGAD Secretariat, Afreximbank, TradeMark East Africa, and the Ethiopian Airlines Group.