First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees Seeks to Reduce Trade Complexities
This week kicks off the First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia focusing on international trade efforts. According to UNCTAD, the event “Aims to be the reference event in Africa where stakeholders from the public and private sector, can boost together their capacities towards the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA),” (UNCTAD).
The primary focus of the forum honed in on international trade efforts, tariffs, the role of NTFCs in the implementation of trade facilitation provisions in the AfCFTA, paperless initiatives at entry points, the involvement of the private sector in NTFCs, how to coordinate border agencies, and the role of transit corridors and the implementation process of Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement signed in March of this year. The overarching goal of the agreement is to increase Intra-African trade efforts through peaceful relations while creating a single, free moving market for goods and services.
“The World Trade Organization calculates that current trade costs for developing countries are equivalent to applying a staggering 219% tariff on international trade, and this hurts Africa,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. “UNCTAD has supported Africa’s work on trade facilitation for decades, including with our ASYCUDA automated customs systems, and capacity building programmes. The culmination of this work is to support the institutions that can make trade work for all, and National Trade Facilitation Committees must become the agents of change to boost international trade for developing countries.”
With a centralized topic on simplifying the trade process within Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s estimated that trade costs could be reduced by 15% through successful efforts from well managed National Free Trade Committees.
“The forum is the result of close collaboration between multilateral and international organizations and is supported by several bilateral donors,” Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics, said. “The alliance showcases the collaborative effort of these institutions and donors to assist in moving forward opportunities for developing and least developed countries to integrate into globalized trade.”
As the forum moves into day two, the outcomes and solutions implemented are in high hopes of creating a better, more simplified trade sector for the region.
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