Two major policy announcements, signed by the six African heads of state of the Communauté Economique et Monetaire de l’Afrique Centrale (CEMAC) summit in Libreville, Gabon, agreed on Friday are to be presented to the leaders of the G8 in London on Saturday.
The policy initiatives are contained within a communiqué agreed by the CEMAC leaders at their summit, held in the margins of a grouping of more than 1,000 business and political leaders attending this year’s “The New York Forum AFRICA (NYFA), the largest pan-African business summit in the world.
A statement issued by NYFA on Saturday identified the two major new policy commitments as the abolition of visa requirements for all citizens of CEMAC for travel within the region, to be implemented by January 1, 2014 and the creation of a policy framework for the protection of business in the CEMAC region, including the adoption of harmonised drug registration policies to combat counterfeit drugs, as well as facilitate access for pharmaceutical companies to the regional market.
The communiqué would be presented at the G8 pre-summit event on Africa by Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and the Francophonie for the Republic of Gabon, on behalf of the governments of the CEMAC region.
The statement said a final communiqué from the CEMAC leaders would be delivered upon the conclusion of the NYFA to the G8.
Announcing the policy commitments, Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic and current chair of the CEMAC, said: “Our six nations are working together across borders to find regional solutions to some of our common challenges, and to strengthen our economic cooperation in order to spur development.
“As the eyes of the world fall on the G8 in the UK this week, the CEMAC leaders wanted to show their own commitment to boosting trade and investment in Africa.
“Together, we are striving to consolidate platforms for growth in Africa, through trade and economic cooperation, and to create new opportunities for the next generation to fulfill their potential. These new policy commitments are the results of fruitful talks at the CEMAC summit, and we look forward to maintaining the momentum in our discussions with the private sector at The New York Forum AFRICA over the next two days.”
CEMAC is an economic and monetary union whose membership consists of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo.
It administers the Central African Franc through the Bank of the Central African States and, through its Regional Economic Programme, is focused on fostering development in the region by deepening regional integration, building a strong common market, and boosting and facilitating trade.
The statement said this year, in recognition of the G8 agenda’s direct relevance to African development, CEMAC aligned its own discussions with the key focus areas of the G8 – taxation, trade and transparency.
It said the six CEMAC heads of state joined other political leaders and more than 1,000 business leaders from the region and further afield to discuss issues as diverse as national and economic security, infrastructure, energy, and foreign direct investment, with a special focus on SMEs and entrepreneurs.
The statement said the CEMAC Summit agenda was designed to agree clear policy frameworks in key areas that will help to increase trade volumes and further the region’s development.
These were clarifying and coordinating customs and trade rules in the region to allow free trade of goods across borders; deepening regional integration by increasing freedom of movement of people within CEMAC; connecting CEMAC’s cities and improving transit networks; and pursuing deeper and more productive trade links with the rest of the world through improving its external tariff profile and the development of the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiation with the EU.
Now in its second year, the New York Forum AFRICA is organised by Richard Attias & Associates under the patronage of the Office of President Ali Bongo Ondimba and in collaboration with the Government of Gabon.