AfDB moves to quicken Africa free trade area implementation
THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved an institutional support grant amounting $4,8 million to the African Union to hasten the pace for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
In a statement, the regional financier said the grant will also assist efforts towards full ratification of the agreement by all AU member States including the application of tariff reductions and related commitments, while generating stakeholder support for the AfCFTA to ensure inclusiveness and common ownership.
“On April 1, 2019, the board of the African Development Bank approved an institutional support grant of $4,8 million to the African Union (AU) to accelerate the momentum of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which received its 22nd ratification on April 2, bringing the agreement into force,” said the bank.
It said the AfCFTA was a major force for continental integration and would expand intra-African trade by up to $35 billion per year and usher in freedom of movement for goods, services and people across the continent’s internal borders.
AfDB said this will be done with a regime of reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers to cut the cost of doing business on the continent.
“It will also boost agriculture and industrial exports by up to $66 billion per year,” it said.
The bank’s grant is targeted at laying the institutional foundations for the AfCFTA implementation secretariat and the roll out of the implementation programmes.
AfDB trade and investment climate division manager, Mr Andoh Mensah was quoted as saying: “The momentum is now in full swing. It is now crucial to establish a robust, efficient, purpose-driven secretariat, capable of addressing improved stakeholder engagement, inclusiveness and ownership in the AfCFTA implementation”.
Last year, AfDB announced that it had invested more than $20 million over the past five years in trade agreement support, and cross-border transport and energy soft infrastructure and was committing to support the building of the institutional and human capacities of the AfCFTA.