12 January 2018

CRCI10 - Implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and Shared Gains

The Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration (CRCI) was established by resolution 827 (XXXII) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of Ministers.

The Committee meets on a biennial basis at ECA to review the work undertaken in the current biennium under subprogramme 2 on regional integration and trade. It also uses the opportunity to review and deliberate on developments in the sectoral areas under the coverage of the subprogramme and make recommendations that are to guide the work under the subprogramme during the next biennium. Accordingly, at its 10th session, the Committee convened in Addis Ababa on 1st and 2nd November 2017 under the theme "Implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and Shared Gains". The 10th session had the objective to examine the efforts being made to fast track the implementation of the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) and an agreement to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The session was attended by 48 African member states and representatives of various institutions.[1]

Parliamentary documentation was prepared, presented and discussed in the key areas of the subprogramme, namely, intra-African and international trade, infrastructure, industrialization, food security and agriculture, investment and land policies.[2] During the meeting, panel discussions, followed by general discussions, were also held on the theme of the 10th session "Implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and Shared Gains". The discussion gave particular emphasis to the necessity of implementing supporting polices, strategies and measures in order for the free trade area to bring the intended benefits. Due attention was also paid to the involvement of all stakeholders especially the private sector in the process to establish the Continental Free Trade Area and the implications of external commitments, such as the Economic Partnership Agreements, on the implementation of the CFTA.

The 10th session also hosted five parallel, pre-session ad hoc Expert Group Meetings (EGMs) on 31 October. These meetings served as a platform to discuss with experts the results of studies conducted during the biennium under subprogramme 2 and shared and validated the policy recommendations emanating from these studies with the Committee members. The five ad hoc EGMs were on the following topics:

A review of policy options to strengthen agribusiness, agro industries and regional value chains as pathways to sustainable and inclusive African transformation;

A review and study of how the promotion of Africa's industrialization can be strengthened through infrastructure development;

A look at policy options for boosting intra-African investment through the regional harmonization of investment policies and treaties;

Trade, gender and human rights as a way to provide a platform for regional economic communities to share experiences about gender mainstreaming and offer a way forward on how they can more effectively support member States in incorporating gender into trade policy;

Brexit and trade between Africa and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from an African perspective.

The 10th Session was closed after reviewing the 2016-2017 work programme of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the ECA, the priorities for the biennium 2018-2019 and subsequent adaptation of its report.

[1] Please refer to the Report of the tenth session of the Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration for the attendance of the meeting, under https://www.uneca.org/crci10

[2] Please refer to the Parliamentary documentation for further information.

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