AfCFTA Poised to Revive Economies of Landlocked, Small Island Developing Countries

The fundamental role of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in overcoming the peculiar challenges faced by Africa’s Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was highlighted at a meeting in Harare.

The issue was discussed on Monday at a high-level event jointly organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

“When we talk LLDCs and SIDS in the context of the AfCFTA, we are talking about a total of 22 African countries, making up 40 percent of the entire AU membership today,” Coordinator of ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), Melaku Desta told more than 100 representatives of government, civil society as well as UN and African Union officials.

Desta further underscored that LLDCs and SIDS can often be differentiated by the specific challenges they face, but are also confronted with many common challenges, particularly those related to the economic, social, and environmental factors that are global in scale.

“The Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) promises to contribute towards addressing some of these challenges,” he underlined.

Desta further stressed that all six of Africa’s SIDS and 15 of the 16 African LLDCs have ratified the AfCFTA, as a sign of their readiness to leverage the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.

He went on to highlight that the priorities defined in both the Vienna Programme of Action (VPOA) for LLDCs and the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS share some of the same goals as the AfCFTA, including that of breaking down geographical, logistical, and regulatory barriers to trade and investment and enhancing productive capabilities.

Declaring the meeting open, Chief Director of Economic Cooperation, International Trade and Diaspora in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe, Rudo Faransis underlined that an integrated African market would facilitate the incorporation of LLCDs and SIDS in many stages of production bestowing to their competitive advantages and thereby the creation of new regional values.

“I, therefore, urge all of us here to be instrumental in playing our part in the implementation of the AfCFTA, by identifying operational gaps and challenges … in order to come up with concrete proposals to address the needs to continent’s most vulnerable countries, particularly LLCDs and SIDS,” the Chief Director said.

The two-day meeting, hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe, aims to proffer some actionable recommendations on how to leverage the opportunities afforded by the AfCFTA for accelerated implementation of the priorities of the VPOA and the SAMOA Pathway.

Over 100 participants including 30 online attended the meeting, held under the theme “leveraging the AfCFTA towards addressing the peculiar trade and development challenges of Africa’s LLDCs and SIDS”, which took place in Harare, Zimbabwe on 27 and 28 February 2023.

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

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