Ship Continer (Kota Nabil Singapore)Africa has the lowest figure of intra-continental trading in the world, with its members posting just 11 per cent of trading with one another, the Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), David Luke, has disclosed.

Luke, who stated this on Wednesday in Abuja at the opening session of the regional consultative meeting on the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, added that Africa’s poor showing is followed by Asia, which has  25 per cent. In Europe, it is above 60 per cent.

The ATPC Coordinator then urged African countries to put in special efforts to increase the level of intra-African trade and cushion the continent’s economies from demand fluctuations from other continents.

The meeting, attended by senior officials and directors of trade from ECOWAS member states, was aimed at facilitating consultations and dialogue among ECOWAS member states on the CFTA with a view to developing regional strategies for effective engagement in its negotiations.

In January 2012, the Summit of Heads of State and Government endorsed the action plan on boosting intra-African trade (BIAT) and decided on the establishment of the CFTA.

Negotiations for the CFTA were launched during the African Union (AU) Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 15, 2015, with 2017 as the indicative date for the completion of negotiations.

Issues that will be discussed at the 2017 meeting include the current state of trade liberalization in ECOWAS, the monitoring strategy for BIAT, studies on the trade potential of the CFTA, principles guiding its negotiations and the CFTA institutional arrangements.

African Union (AU) Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Mrs. Fatima Haram Acyl, represented by Mrs Treasure Maphanga, said the meeting would enable member states to share experiences in the development of national and regional action plans on boosting intra-Africa trade.

The endorsed action plan incorporates trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information and factor-market integration.

The meeting is expected to put together recommendations for the consideration of various ECOWAS policy organs in order to promote national and regional ownership of the BIAT/CFTA agenda.

By Pita Ochai

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