East Africa: AU, Trademark East Africa Join Hands to Boost Intra-African Trade

THE African Union, a continental body consisting of the 55 member states and Trade- Mark East Africa (TMEA), one of the largest aid-fortrade organisations worldwide, have signed a partnership to boost the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in selected Southern and Eastern Africa countries.

The agreement was signed by AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Ambassador Albert Muchanga, TMEA Board Chairman, Ambassador Erastus Mwencha and TMEA CEO, Frank Matsaert.

TMEA's operations across eight countries, working with government, private sector and civil society to address high trade costs in Eastern Africa and support export growth, is well-positioned to support the African Union on its vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

The partnership prioritises areas of common interest to both organisations include collaboration on development of an Action Plan for the implementation of AfCFTA for selected countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.

The priorities include also complementing each other's efforts in supporting the implementation of AfCFTA, specifically on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) initiative which focuses on seven clusters - trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information and factor market integration as drivers for expanding intra-African Trade and agree with a work plan for the implementation.

It will involve encouraging, in a joint manner, the inclusion of the voice of the private sector in negotiations and the implementation of the AfCFTA, increasing export growth and diversification and developing and monitoring of trade/ transport corridors to improve the flow of goods, services, people and information between countries and regions, including one-stop border posts (OSBPs).

Africa Union and TMEA plan collaboration in areas of transport infrastructure and operations, trade facilitation, trade logistics, ICT for trade, integration of regional trade networks and support to regional value chains of goods and services.

"AU is indeed excited to work with TMEA, renowned organisation that has implemented successful trade facilitation programmes in East Africa. We want to complement our efforts in implementing the ambitious boosting intra-African trade programme, leverage TMEAs experience and ensure similar trade facilitation initiatives are implemented to boost trade and prosperity for the people in this region," said Ambassador Muchanga.

TMEA Board Chairman, Ambassador Mwencha said the partnership with African Union was an important milestone and embodied their vision for a prosperous Eastern Africa.

"TMEA can help fast-track implementation of the AfCFTA by supporting the AU programme for BIAT. By implementing quick win measures to 'thin' borders and reduce the cost and time to trade along key corridors, TMEA will help keep the momentum going for this ambitious initiative to be realised, while countries are involved in the longer-term exercise of negotiating trade and tariff regimes."

TMEA operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

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