National Consultative Forum On the African Continental Free Trade Area - Experts to Discuss Corruption and the Challenge of Economic Transformation in Southern Africa

21 May 2019

Lusaka — ECA & AUC) - The Economic Commission for Africa Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA) in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, African Union Commission (AUC), are co-organising a National Consultative Forum; "National Consultative Forum on the African continental free trade area: Opportunities and Challenges for Zambia" from 23rd - 24th May 2019, at Mulungushi Conference in Lusaka, Zambia.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was launched on 21st March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. During this meeting, Zambia signed the Declaration Launching the AfCFTA and subsequently signed the AfCFTA agreement on 11 February 2019.

The AfCFTA is expected to be a key engine of economic growth, industrialization and sustainable development in Africa in line with the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 for "The Africa We Want". In this regard and to adequately prepare for entry into force of the Agreement, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia is hosting a "National consultative forum on the AfCFTA: Opportunities and challenges for Zambia" on 23-24 May 2019 at the Mulungushi international conference centre, Lusaka, Zambia.

The Forum will include presentations by UNECA, AUC and SADC and COMESA Secretariats and other nominated experts. It will include a Ministerial Round Table Session at which Ministers from key economic and social Ministries will be invited to give their perspectives on the AfCFTA, lessons learnt from regional integration within SADC and COMESA, and provide policy advice on what stakeholders in Zambia should do in preparation for the AfCFTA. Discussions and presentations by business associations on their perspectives will also be a key component of the deliberations.

The Forum is also expected to provide proposals from stakeholders on the areas to be included in the AfCFTA national implementation strategy and guidance on the composition of the National Committee on the AfCFTA which will oversee the implementation of the Agreement in Zambia. The Forum is part of a wider programme to develop a national AfCFTA implementation Strategy, which includes a nation-wide consultation from 27-31 May 2019.

The national implementation strategies, which will have regard for countries priority interests within the continental and global development agenda, are part of a wider project aiming at Deepening Africa's Trade integration through Effective Implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to identify the key elements to be considered in the AfCFTA implementation strategies.

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