26 September 2017

Experts Discuss Ways to Advance Africa's Trade Policy

Addis Ababa, 22 September (ECA) - The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) recently convened several meetings in Addis Ababa with trade negotiators, international academics, experts from regional economic communities (RECs) and other partners to define ways forward for Africa's trade policy.

The meetings followed the informal assembly of African Union Ministers of Trade on the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference that was convened by the African Union mid-September.

The ECA organized a follow-up meeting soon afterwards for WTO experts to discuss a way forward in the lead-up to the ministerial gathering which would be held in Buenos Aires in December.

The meeting agreed on a series of action points, which will contribute to the preparatory process among African negotiators in Geneva and facilitate the finding of common positions and priorities in WTO forums.

In the meantime, academics and trade experts from the AUC and the ECA met on 19 and 20 September to discuss a series of papers on the Canadian progressive trade agenda and its implications for Africa.

The workshop was organized as a part of ATPC's partnership with the Centre of Trade Policy and Law (CTPL) of Carleton University, and contributed to the development of a special edition of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

The discussions focused on the lessons for Africa in Canada's new trade policy paradigm and the new opportunities and challenges it presents in the future of Africa-Canada trading relationship.

Monitoring and evaluation experts from the regional economic communities, trade experts and other partners then met soon afterwards and reviewed advances made by the ECA on the development of a regional strategy for tracking progress on the priority clusters of the Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) Action Plan.

The meeting noted the importance of a framework under which information can be collected and compiled to assess both progress and gaps in the implementation of activities under the BIAT Action Plan.

The draft strategy and indicators were discussed in detail, and the rolling out of the monitoring strategy to the RECs is planned for early 2018.

David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, expressed his satisfaction with the lively discussions and concrete policy recommendations that had emerged during the meetings.

"The Continental Free Trade Area which is under negotiation is undeniably an important undertaking, but it cannot achieve its full potential in isolation. It is necessary to ensure that our actions elsewhere support the priority of intra-African trade. This means implementing flanking policies in line with the BIAT clusters, defending our policy space in the multilateral arena and finding innovative ways to work with our external partners and with each other," said Mr. Luke.

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