The Eas African Business Council (EABC) has urged the private sector and policy makers to embrace intra-trade as a means of boosting Africa’s economy.
This is a move that will see the success of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) project that will create a single economic market in Africa as a means of reducing cost of doing business, reducing trading levies and increasing efficiency and standards of doing business in Africa.
Speaking on Monday during the official opening of the EABC Regional Consultative workshop on AfCFTA, the EABC Chairman, Nick Nesbitt said that improving intra-trade will enhance competitiveness in the continent which will extend the value addition chain in the member states.
“If we embrace intra-trade, there will be regional value addition by improving the manufacturing sector which will open up markets across the region advancing Africa’s economy and living standards,” he said.
Nesbitt also said that improving intra-trade will integrate different countries, different businesses and political agenda making it easier for business people to trade within the continent.
The Chairman added that less trade is done in the continent compared to other continents because of the difficulty in doing business and urged the key players in trade to deal with the issues so as to ensure the success of trade in Africa.
“Doing business in Africa is difficult due to physical, travel, telecommunication, political and non-tariff barriers. We need to deal with these issues together as the private sector and the policy makers to boost trade in Africa,” Nesbitt said.
He also assured the member states in East Africa that they are working together with the East Africa Community (EAC) secretariat to come up with strategies on how they will collectively develop the right policies and framework development approach to improve AfCFTA.
The EABC CEO, Peter Mathuki said that the AfCFTA will be a major shift in the improvement of trade that will increase the standards of living in Africa.
“With Africa being at around 20 per cent in intra-trade involvement as compared to the European Union which is at 70 per cent, the AfCFTA will be bring a major shift in the boosting trade in Africa.,” he said.
Mathuki also added that the SMEs will also be involved as stakeholders in ensuring that East Africa region joins the rest of the African continent in the implementation of AfCFTA that will create a liberalized market for goods and services in Africa.
The Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) Project Team Leader, Ms. Paveen Mbeda said that that intra-trade will also increase investments in Africa as the economy will be stronger.
“Individual countries don’t have a strong economy which limits investments in Africa. Working together under a single economic market will make the economy stronger hence making it easier for more investors to invest in the continent,” she said.
The International Trade Centre Senior Trade Policy Officer, Jean Sebastien Roure urged the private sector and the policy makers in different countries to strengthen dialogues of how they can work together to enhance a free and economical intra-trade.
“The partnership between the policy makers who are the different regional communities and the private sector is one of the key conditions to ensure AfCFTA is a success,” Roure alliterated.
The African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be put into effect after the various heads of states meet in Niger on July 7, 2019 to discuss more on its implementation.
By Ian Munjuga/ Joseph Ng’ang’a