Chief Executive Officers and Heads of various Regional Economic Communities (RECs) from across Africa have met in Arusha, Tanzania to deliberate on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The second coordination meeting of the heads/CEOs of RECs on the implementation of AfCFTA, took place in Arusha, Tanzania on June 7, 2022. The meeting among others, provided updates on steps towards the start of commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA.
Speaking during the meeting held at the Headquarters of the East African Community (EAC), the Secretary-General of EAC, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki, said Africa was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
However, he bemoaned that trade in goods and services accounts for an estimated 3% of global exports and imports on average.
According to him, the share of Intra African trade remains low: on average, 13% for intra-imports and 20% for intra exports, while Extra-African trade accounts for more than 80% of the total trade.
He explained that “Africa’s exports to the rest of the world consist of raw materials, such as oil, gas, minerals, and agricultural commodities, with little to no value
Dr. Mathuki noted that there were many reasons why intra-Africa trade was low; saying “these include differences in trade regimes (8 AU recognised RECs), inadequacies of
trade-related infrastructure (poor intermodal connectivity), trade finance and trade information. Other constraints are customs,
administrative and technical barriers, limited productive capacity, lack of factor market integration and inadequate focus on internal market issues.
He said the Continent recognised these challenges and has been working
progressively to address these binding constraints through the AfCFTA and AU’s Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) action plan, saying if well-resourced and fast-tracked, these two initiatives will drive economic growth, industrialisation and development across Africa.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, in her keynote address, commended initiatives being taken by the AfCFTA Secretariat and the
CEOs of Regional Economic Communities.
She expressed the confidence that this framework will underpin the interface between the AfCFTA and RECs Free Trade Area and laydown actionable policy proposals that would assist in ensuring coherent, coordinated and fully responsive collaboration between the AfCFTA and RECs.