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African Trade forum planned to bolster continental free trade plan

Following the authorization, by the African Union (AU) Summit, that a task force be created to drive the formation of a Continental Free Trade Area (CTFA), organizers have scheduled an African Trade Forum (ATF) for 24-26 September in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

The forum is a joint initiative of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Forum (AfDB).

UNECA said on Monday that preparations for second ATF were underway to discuss boosting Intra-African Trade and Establishing the CFTA.

UNECA’s Head of African Trade Policy, Mr. Alan Kyerematin, said the forum is being organized against a backdrop of increasing commitments to boosting intra-African trade and establishing a CFTA.

“The outcomes of ATF I, held in 2011, provided substantive input into the preparations for the January 2012 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting on the theme — Boosting Intra-Africa Trade,” he said.

Mr. Kyerematin said the forum would review key challenges in implementing the agreed Action Plan on Boosting intra-African Trade and establishing the CFTA and forge an implementing strategy in that regard.

“The results of the January Summit are an important step made by our Heads of States and Government,” the UNECA official said.

During the 19th AU Summit, which ended last Tuesday, the African leaders mandated the creation of a three-party task force to work on the details required towards the formation of the continental free trade area.

The Summit formally endorsed a Framework, Road Map and Architecture for fast tracking the establishment of the CFTA and an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade.

The Framework, Road Map and Architecture specifically calls upon ECA, AfDB and other relevant development partners to support the implementation of the Action Plan and the establishment of the CFTA.

The three bodies are required to work with other relevant agencies to take appropriate measures, including studies, technical support to the Regional Economic Communities and sensitization of Member States and partners, for the effective implementation of the CFTA Road Map.

ATF is a platform for inclusive policy dialogue between various trade constituencies to deliberate and agree on common approaches and strategies for implementing the Action Plan on boosting intra-African trade and the establishment of the CFTA.

The forum will agree on specific inputs into the African Ministerial Conference on Trade to be held later this year. 


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