Addis Ababa — With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) set to go into force soon, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its partners are organizing a Horn of Africa Regional Trade Forum on the pact.
The forum, which is being co-organized with partners like the African Union Commission and the Ethiopian government, will be held under the theme; AfCFTA Ratification and Implementation: Breaking Down Geographical, Logistical and Regulatory Barriers to Trade and Investment in the Horn to Boost Competitiveness and Job Creation.
Mr. Adeyinka Adeyemi an ECA Senior Adviser with the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) says the forum will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 23-24 May 2019.
Participants are expected to come up with recommendations on how to use the AfCFTA as a policy tool to create positive change and impact in African economies as well as advancing gender equality and women's economic empowerment.
The first ECA forum on the AfCFTA was held in Lagos, Nigeria, last year.
"In Lagos stakeholders highlighted the need to more effectively engage the private sector, which is best-placed to identify and seize opportunities created by the AfCFTA. This forum seeks to do just that in the Horn," said Mr. Adeyemi, adding the agreement should also be used as a catalyst for inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development in Africa.
The Addis Ababa forum will provide a platform for all stakeholders, including policy makers, commercial actors, academics and civil society organisations, to explore issues related to how the AfCFTA will help address the continent's unique trade and competitiveness challenges.
"Ongoing efforts to deepen economic integration in the Horn region and speed up its pace will be explored using specific and concrete transboundary projects, such as interconnected power grids, shipping, transport related logistics corridors, and mining and development projects," Mr. Adeyemi said.
Issues particular to the region will be under spotlight during the two-day forum.
"There is no doubt that the AfCFTA will not only reduce or eliminate barriers to trade and harmonise standards on the continent. It will also provide an overarching framework within which regions can address their peculiar challenges in a specific manner. Forums like this help regions come up with solutions together," Mr. Adeyemi added.
The forum will include plenaries and roundtables organized around nine thematic areas;
- The AfCFTA: Boosting Competitiveness and Job Creation in the Horn of Africa
- The AfCFTA: Stocktaking - completing the investment, competition and intellectual property protocols of the Phase II agenda
- The AfCFTA and the Horn: Broadening policy space and taking advantage of flexibilities
- The AfCFTA and LDCs/LLDCs: Breaking Down Geographical, Logistical and Regulatory Barriers to Trade and Investment
- Driving the AfCFTA: The role of the private sector
- Inclusive gains: Women and youth-owned businesses
- The Manufacturing Sector and the AfCFTA: the case of the pharmaceutical industry value chain
- The AfCFTA Country Business Index
- Transforming services in the context of the AfCFTA
AfCFTA forums will also be held in Senegal and South Africa for the West and Southern African regions respectively.
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