Webinar: The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Emerging opportunities for trade facilitation

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (Alliance), which works to help governments in developing and least developed countries implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement,  ICC Ghana, ICC Kenya, and ICC Nigeria, three chapters of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organisation, brought together African businesses to discuss the potential benefits of the AfCFTA for African economies. In particular, the webinar looked at how its trade facilitation measures could boost intra-continental trade and the potential to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

22 September 2020
11:00 am–12:30 pm (Nigeria) / 10:00–11:30 am (Ghana)
12:00–1:30 pm (CET) / 1:00–2:30 pm (Kenya)

The Covid-19 pandemic is projected to have long-lasting adverse effects on the global economy, hurting developing and least developed countries the most. While it will be difficult for the entire global economy to recover, African countries are particularly vulnerable in the wake of the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could offer African countries a lever to mitigate the negative economic effects of the pandemic. The AfCFTA will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and encompass a region with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (Alliance), which works to help governments in developing and least developed countries implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement,  ICC Ghana, ICC Kenya, and ICC Nigeria, three chapters of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organisation, brought together African businesses to discuss the potential benefits of the AfCFTA for African economies. In particular, the webinar looked at how its trade facilitation measures could boost intra-continental trade and the potential to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

Opening the session, Hubert Danso focused on the importance of harnessing the power of technology to promote cross-border trade in Africa.  Trudi Hartzenberg stressed the importance of trade facilitation reforms to attain the full long-term benefits of the AfCFTA. She cited a study by the World Bank which found that most of the AfCFTA’s economic benefits will come from measures that cut red tape and simplify customs procedures, boosting income by $292 billion and making it easier for African businesses to integrate into global supply chains[1].

The panellists then discussed how to fully reap the benefits of the AfCFTA. They agreed that trade facilitation is key for boosting trade flows in the region and that trade facilitation needs to be accompanied by other supporting policies for the agreement to be fully implemented on the ground. Ayemibo Bamidele and Nuamah Eshun Famiyeh reflected on the lessons learned from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), which despite having been signed thirty years ago is still little known by businesses and so has been underutilised. Mohamed Samara noted that the success of the AfCFTA also rests on enhanced infrastructure development to increase the capacity for intra-Africa trade.

All speakers agreed that to achieve the full potential of the AfCFTA, governments need to work hand-in-hand with the private sector and build effective public-private partnerships to ensure that it is implemented in a way that is meaningful to businesses and their day-to-day operations. This can be done by building awareness about the AfCFTA, ensuring easy access to trade-related information for all stakeholders and ensuring that both sectors work together throughout the implementation process.

[1] World Bank https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/07/27/african-continental-free-trade-area

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Hubert Danso,
Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Africa Investor (Ai) Group

OPENING REMARKS
Mattia Wegmann,
Deputy Director Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, GIZ

PANELLISTS
• Trudi Hartzenberg,
Executive Director, Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (Moderator)
• Mohamed Samara,
CEO, Meridian Port Services
• Nuamah Eshun Famiyeh,
General Manager Operations/ Marketing, Kinapharma Ltd
• Ayemibo Bamidele,
Lead Consultant, 3T Impex  Trade Academy

Download the invitation