AfCFTA’s transformative influence on poverty reduction, continental growth

It goes without saying that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) plays a great role in transforming the African economies towards greater utilization of technology, knowledge that assist the progress of capital flows to African countries. This process brings into being employment opportunities in the region.

It goes without saying that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) plays a great role in transforming African economies towards greater utilization of technology and knowledge that assist the progress of capital flows to African countries. This process brings employment opportunities to the region.

To this point, Ethiopia has made strides in creating and encouraging micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises by providing finance and space.

On the subject of the issue, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Macroeconomics and Governance Division Director Adam Elhiraika recently said that AfCFTA will provide huge opportunities for expanding and diversifying exports and imports on the continent. The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, with 55 signatory countries and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs), according to information obtained from local media.

The director stressed the need to increase not just the value of exports but also the quality of exports. “We should add value to our primary commodities and try to produce as much as the goods we import domestically.”

So, industrialization and value addition efforts should be enhanced, and there is also a need to look at the regional markets in Africa, as there are a lot of opportunities to increase trade regionally.

It is crucial to ensure that the private sector fully understands the objectives of AfCFTA and its future negotiations. The private sector should know the components of the agreement and the rounds of negotiations that follow. It should ensure that it has a voice in the operationalization of the agreement by African governments. The private sector needs to be fully aware of the issues, benefits, and opportunities and the role it plays in the process.

The expected benefits of AfCFTA are significant. The target market in Africa is projected to increase in size with an increase in population. A middle class is also expected to increase in size. he Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will also increase with improved performance in the agriculture, manufacturing, and services industries.

Purchasing power in terms of investment and consumer spending will also rise. This situation provides African businesses with the opportunity to implement forward-looking business plans that maximize the benefits of AfCFTA. This helps them integrate regionally and globally.

According to the press release sent in recent times to The Ethiopian Herald by the African Capacity Building Foundation, the training, which is designed explicitly for African Ambassadors and diplomats currently posted at Permanent Missions to the African Union, aims at enhancing their understanding of AfCFTA and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to accelerate its implementation effectively.

It would also generate valuable insights and policy recommendations that can drive the African Continental Free Trade Area forward, significantly increasing intra-African trade and improving regional integration. Moreover, enhancing economic growth, job creation, and providing better livelihoods for the continent’s people are among the major impacts that the training would highlight.

By engaging African ambassadors and diplomats, this training provides the perfect opportunity to promote collaboration among member states and enhance the coordination required to speed up the implementation of the AfCFTA.

Thus, governments are encouraged to take advantage of the AfCTFA to promote inclusive and structural transformation in African countries to increase the volume of intra-African trade, as stated.

Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) announced that Ethiopia is finalizing preparations to penetrate Africa’s free trade area through fulfilling conditions and signing agreements.

Ministry’s International Relations Expert, Tesfaye Tadesse told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia has submitted the document to the secretariat of the African Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and is carrying out the rest of the technical work to delve into the continental market shortly.

As to Tesfaye, awareness is being created among all business communities, manufacturers, research institutions, and other stakeholders in a way that they can make the necessary preparations to be competent as required by the Continental Free Trade Zone system.

“Though establishing common customs is part of the framework of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, but it has not yet been implemented,” he said.

He noted that Ethiopia has so far signed 20 bilateral trade agreements, three border trade agreements, and several commercial cooperation documents.

Among these accords, three are special trade agreements, and the others are trade cooperation agreements with Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. The agreement allows taking measures to help expand and grow trade, he stated.

As to him, neighboring countries such as Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan, and Kenya were Ethiopia’s major foreign trade partners between 2018 and 2022 as the country exported fruits and vegetables, coffee, and livestock while importing edible oil, fuel, rice, spare parts, and stationery items from these nations.

Apart from the neighboring countries, Tesfaye noted that China has also given a free market opportunity to developing countries including Ethiopia. The China–Ethiopia trade and bilateral economic cooperation has seen a remarkable growth during the past three decades.

The two countries have made a 4.22 billion USD average trade transactions from 2018 to 2022. Of this, Ethiopia exported 135 million USD while importing a 4.1 billion USD products, he said, adding that China is the best destination of Ethiopian products such as oil seeds, quality cotton thread and the likes.

Likewise, the European Union (EU) has given developing countries the opportunity to import using “Everything but Arms” duty-free market mechanism. However, it is be observed that the products of many developing countries, including Ethiopia, face many challenges in meeting the quality standards and requirements of EU member countries which makes it difficult to the developing countries to utilize the chance, he indicated.

Facilitating the operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is instrumental to foster economic integration and build lasting peace in the Horn of Africa (HoA), the Ministry of Peace (MoP) said.

The Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) in collaboration with the MoP and Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) held a panel discussion on regional peace and stability matters.

Speaking at the occasion, the MoP Minister, Binalf Andualem, recently stated that Ethiopia has a huge responsibility to ensure enduring peace and stability as well as to foster economic integration in the Horn of Africa (HoA). In this regard, facilitating the operation of the AfCFTA would expedite efforts that aim to build solid peace and economic interconnectedness in the region and the entire continent at large.

Ethiopia is committed to the realization of economic integration vision and its Foreign Policy gives equal weight to neighbor’s peace to its internal stability and this principle is the root cause for the country’s huge involvement in peace-enforcing missions in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia also believes that the trade supply-chain among countries should be supported by proclamation and other legal frameworks, Binalf elaborated.

According to him, having considered its huge responsibility in the HoA, Ethiopia should focus on activities that foster regional economic integration and stability through consultation, cooperation, discussion and others. The country should also devise mechanisms to overcome challenges that have been posed by lack of peace and conflict in the strategic region.

Regarding the issue, the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations (AACCSA) Secretary General, Shibeshi Betemariam told local media that the country ought to formulate economic policies compatible to the protocols of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), in order to enhance the full utilization of the continental integrated market.

“Countries like Kenya and Rwanda design their policies and strategies guided by their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ethiopia has also designed its policies in response to SDGs but what remains is taking the AfCFTA protocol such as protocol of trades on goods, services and investment into account,” he underscored.

With regard to digital transaction, he indicated that the government has formulated Digital Ethiopia 2025 which aimed at integrating states, creating efficiency and convenience and linking Ethiopia’s economy with neighboring countries.

Furthermore, the Secretary General said that it would have great impact on global value chain in allowing cross border market linkage not only in between neighboring countries but also across the globe. Emphasizing that being producer is not mandatory to engage in digital transaction, creating platform would serve the nation hugely. To this end, he indicated that there are emerging platforms such as Ride, delivery, digital health and other services.


The Ethiopian Herald April 14/2024


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