Business

AfCFTA: New tool to unlock opportunities amid COVID-19

 

CONVERGENCE
The trade agreement is going to bring nothing less one billion people together in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc

 

As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement takes off, a new tool to enable African businesses locate trade opportunities has become handy, especially as coronavirus pandemic still poses a major threat to the agreement.
Launched last year by the Africa union (AU) and partners, the intelligence tool enables firms to easily explore and compare trade opportunities across Africa.

The African Trade Observatory was rolled out by the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The AfCFTA lowers trade barriers and promotes regional economic integration

 

. Trading  under the continent-wide area began on January 1, 2021.

 

‘’Economic integration is close to the heart of the European Union and will continue to support the African Union towards its endeavour of the African common market,’’ European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships H.E. Jutta Uripilainen, said.

 

The African Trade Observatory is especially valuable for empowering the economic operators during this COVID-19 pandemic, ITC Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said.

 

“Today, we are putting an entire continent of trade intelligence at the fingertips of African entrepreneurs, especially to support small local firms, women and young people in making the most of new opportunities,” he added.

 

The beta version of the web platform, currently available in French and English, was released during the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the AfCFTA. The Arabic and Portuguese versions will be available in the near future.

 

Following the release of two publicly available modules (Compare and Explore), policymakers and regional economic communities will have access to a third monitor module.

 

This module will provide a range of real-time indicators on trade flows, utilisation of AfCFTA tariff preferences, tax revenues, clearance time and trade simulations, thereby facilitating the evaluation of the implementation process and impact of the AfCFTA.

 

Businesses across Africa have been bracing to explore opportunities in the trade agreement, which is believed to bring nothing less one billion people together.
Specifically, Ghana’s President, Addo Akufo-Addo, had said the implementation of the agreement would put African countries, hit by the devastating impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, back on track.

 

According to him, the African trade deal will be a game-changer because it has the potential to stimulate intra-Africa trade

 

Addressing the first African Continental Free Trade Area webinar, President Akufo-Addo said the continent was poised for inclusive and sustainable development.
“We are determined to enter into a new era of industrialisation and have access to a single continental market. We will be a game-changer on that market as it will be the key to the ability of businesses on the continent to recover from the adverse effect of COVID-19 and proceed to grow in leverage of the new opportunities available to the market,” he said.

 

Akufo-Addo also promised an intensified public education on the agreement so more businesses can take advantage of it.

 

African countries began officially trading under a new continent-wide free trade area last Friday, after months of delays caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

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