The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies has arrived back in the country, from Niamey, Niger where he attended the 4th African Union (AU) Ministers of Trade Meeting. The AU Ministers of Trade was officially opened by H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger and Champion of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
The Ministerial meeting, which was preceded by the 8th CFTA Negotiating Forum and the 4th meeting of Senior Trade Officials, made substantial progress on the draft Agreement establishing the CFTA, the Protocols on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services, as well as relevant Annexes.
While there is still outstanding work on some of the draft texts, it is expected that the Agreement Establishing the CFTA and the Protocol on Trade in Services will be concluded for signature by the AU Heads of State and Government in March 2018. The finalisation of the negotiations on the Protocol on Trade in Goods and its Annexes will continue thereafter.
The conclusion of the CFTA will be a significant milestone in Africa’s integration process and the CFTA should promote industrial development
The CFTA establishes an integrated continental market of 1.2 billion people with a GDP of over $2 trillion that will facilitate the movement of goods and services across the continent. This will unlock sustainable growth and development and promote intra-Africa trade. It will also provide preferential access for South African goods and services into the rest of the Continent.
Minister Davies emphasised the importance of Africa’s development integration agenda that combines market integration with industrial and infrastructure development. Davies says “the conclusion of the CFTA will be a significant milestone in Africa’s integration process and the CFTA should promote industrial development and the development of regional value-chains.”
The meeting also received an update on the State of Play in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations in preparation for the 11th Ministerial Conference and agreed on the need for African countries to participate in the Conference to ensure that African interests are advanced. Davies reiterated that the African continent should ensure that the outcomes of MC11 support the economic transformation agenda of the Continent as entailed in Agenda 2063 and that African countries should engage to preserve policy space to industrialise.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) is scheduled to take place from 10 – 13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.