Pan-African Parliament workshop on AfCFTA ends with recommendations - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Pan-African Parliament workshop on AfCFTA ends with recommendations

A two-day Workshop organized by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on African Union (AU) theme for 2023, “Accelerating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): The Strategic Significance of the PAP” ended on Tuesday with recommendations on the establishment of legislative framework and institutional mechanism to accelerate the domestication and implementation of the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA is a flagship project of the AU’s Agenda 2063 which aspires to transform the African continent into a future powerhouse.

The workshop also recommended the mobilization of institutional processes in Member States for the ratification of the Protocols that are critical to the implementation of the AfCFTA and more particularly the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.

Performing the closing ceremony, the Fourth Vice President of the PAP, Hon. Francois Ango Ndoutoume, noted that although the African continent has many challenges, “What we may see as Africa’s weaknesses today, will grow to be its strengths tomorrow.”  He stated that the workshop ended with a clear understanding by Pan-African Parliamentarians of what is required of them to ensure the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.

Hon. Ndoutoume emphasized that the AfCFTA is intended to encourage fair trade competition, promote industrial relations, investment and movements of goods, products and people on the African continent and that it will encourage commerce, business and help in the eradication of poverty on the continent.

A member of the PAP Committee on Trade Customs and Immigration matters, Hon. Wavel Woodcock, summarized the outcomes and recommendations of the Workshop observing that the PAP must play a crucial role towards the realization of the continental integration through the AfCFTA.

This, according to Hon. Wavel Woodcock includes ensuring that all member states ratify the AfCFTA agreement to participate in intra-African trade.

“During the past two days, we also discussed the development of African products that are standardized, that are of good quality, competitive, well packaged and harmonized. Emphasis was placed on the need of the African nations to process and manufacture our own raw materials and minerals to create more jobs for our people instead of having our resources and minerals being exploited by other continents with impunity,” Hon. Woodcock said.

The workshop affirmed the need for one currency for Africa to allow for fairness in trade, instead of using European or American currency to trade on the continent. To this end, PAP will engage in robust advocacy in Member States to achieve full ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)  as well as establish a platform to articulate coherent guidelines for implementation of the operational instruments that will govern African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) such as Pan-African Payments and Settlements System (PAPSS) and aadjustment Facility to respond to the challenges of short-term negative impact of the liberalization process on State Parties’ fiscal capacities.

It was also noted that the implementation of AfCFTA depends on the African private sector which requires an enabling environment to drive the process including requisite policies and legislation especially when it comes to the movements of goods and people.

Other recommendations include:

1.  Sensitize Member States on the benefits of accelerating the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), emphasize the long-term recovery and growth in member states, the impact on deeper integration in boosting incomes, increasing job creation and expedite investments;

2.         Establish institutional mechanisms in Member States on value addition and encourage the development of an integrated and complementary African value chains to support the commitment to transform Africa from a raw materials exporter to a producer of market-competitive value added products;

3.        Deliberately facilitate youth, women and people with disabilities’ access to trade information, services, affordable finance, ICT and markets opportunities;

4.    Encourage the use of the African Trade Observatory to enhance the efficacy of the trade market and information intelligence on the continent and facilitate the transfer to the AfCFTA Secretariat;

5.       Ensure that trade-related information from Member States and other sources, analysis focusing on emerging issues such as regional value chains and e-commerce, data obtained on the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process and impact of the AfCFTA and the BIAT, trade-related information transmitted to the private sector and a database established for African trade and market access that is used to publish and disseminate information on intra-African trade are retained and owned by the African Union through the AfCFTA Secretariat;

6.         Put in place a trade marketing framework which shall encourage and increase the local production and trade of goods produced in Africa; Set up mechanisms and strategies to put in placea trade related infrastructure to encourage the development of innovative, legal and financial mechanisms for multi-country infrastructural development projects;

7.         Adopt legislation to ensure the implementation of a 40% procurement of goods and services in all AU member states in private sector development and resource mobilization;

8.      Establish a platform that will facilitate the integration of the private sector in accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), develop institutional mechanisms for an improved private sector engagement, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as women and youth;

9.         Encourage a collaborative engagement with the Africa Business Council as an appropriate platform for policymakers, business and industry leaders, private sector stakeholders and investors to lay and consolidate the foundations for meaningful intra-African trade as well as stimulate intra-Africa investment. This is in recognition of the fact that while trade agreements were negotiated by governments, the private sector is the primary beneficiary and implementer of trade agreements;

10.      Emphasize the need to implement a dedicated continental infrastructure network to facilitate free movement of goods, services and capital on the continent for the purpose of enhancing efficiency of -trade and transportation of goods;

11.      Enforce the of harmonization measures pertaining toproducts and commodities within the Member States, such that the requirement for registering a given product across all African nations can be obviated upon its development;

12.      Establish a continental fund for the purpose of interconnecting infrastructure throughout the African continent, with the primary objective of facilitating seamless transportation and fostering enhanced trade activities across the region;

13.      Allocate a budget towards the establishment of an integrated high-speed rail network spanning the entirety of the African continent, with the express objective of expediting trade and transportation efficiency and regional integration;

14.      Adopt an action plan aimed at ensuring comprehensive connectivity, within the digital transformation framework across the African continent in line with the AU Digital Transformation Strategy adopted by the AU Summit. This strategic initiative is imperative due to the pervasive nature of work that transcends the prevailing digital divide;

15.      Enhance the capacity for legislative development with a focus on expedited implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, while also identifying and addressing any existing regulatory gaps.

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