East African Private sector discusses their contribution to the AfCFTA

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East African Private sector discusses their contribution to the AfCFTA

Arusha, 25 April 2019- (ECA) – The African Continental Free Trade Area isn't simply a 'Free Trade Agreement' it's about establishing a unified continental market with 1.2 billion potential customers and where the private sector is a major engine to make it happen.

This was the tone from the discussions of the meeting held on Thursday in Arusha about how the East African Private sector including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could benefit from the AfCFTA. 

The one-day meeting, organized jointly between the East African Business Council (EABC) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), convened close to 40 key players from the region’s private sector.

 The office for Eastern Africa of ECA estimates large potential gains from the AfCFTA, including an increase in intra-African exports of Eastern Africa by nearly US$ 1 billion and job creation of 0.5 to 1.9 million.

  "Together African economies have a collective GDP of 2.5 trillion USD, making it the 8th largest economy in the world. That makes the continent much more attractive to investment, both from within and from outside the continent", said Andrew Mold, Acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa. "This should encourage business people to take advantage of AfCFTA and make the investments necessary to sustain economic growth and create employment".

Nick Nesbitt, Chairman of EABC, emphasized the importance of the continent having a clear vision to put an end to the fragmentation of the internal market. "I really applaud everybody who has involved in creating the AfCFTA because their vision is the one of pan-Africanism. It is something our founding founders aspired to. Our thanks to ECA for being at forefront of this conversation and pushing the agenda forward so that the continent becomes a single economic trading bloc", he said.

 Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General of Customs and Trade at the East African Community Secretariat, cited the experience of Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks for the AfCFTA. "The AfCFTA should build on what has already been achieved in regional negotiations like the Tripartite Free Trade Area, as well as within our respective regional blocks" he said.

 Bagamuhunda highlighted governments need to set a conducive environment for the successful implementation of AfCFTA.

 The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, at a historic meeting of the African Union in Kigali. 52 of 55 African Union member states have so far signed the AfCFTA, 22 countries that have ratified the agreement, which was the minimum number required for it to enter into force.

 

About UNECA

 The UN Economic Commission for Africa is made up of 54 African member States and plays a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape. ECA provides technical advisory services to African governments, intergovernmental organizations and institutions.

Its Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) covers the following countries: Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

SRO-EA also serves two Regional Economic Communities (RECs): East African Community (EAC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); and three intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs): Indian Ocean Commission (IOC); the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL); and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). 

 

 

About EABC

 The East African Business Council (EABC) is the regional apex body of Private Sector associations and Corporates from the 6 East African Countries. It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the Private Sector in the Integration process of the East African Community. Being the representative of Private Sector associations in the region, EABC was granted observer status in organs and activities of the East African Community (EAC). EABC, therefore, participates in various sectoral meetings, meetings of the Coordination Committee, the EAC Council of Ministers, and the Summit of the EAC Heads of State; with a view to ensure that the agenda of the Private Sector is well articulated and received by the policymakers.