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African Experts in Talks for a Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Abidjan — A group of experts from seven African regional economic commissions (RECs), AUC, ADB, ECA, UNCTAD, academia, research institutions and civil society have met in Abidjan to discuss the possible structure and content of a Continental Free Trade Area agreement (CFTA).

Hosted by the African Development Bank, the meeting reviewed the RECs’ experience of trade liberalization and potential lessons for the CFTA; the Abuja Treaty and AU treaty-making process; the scope, negotiating principles, objectives and institutional framework of the CFTA negotiations; a proposed outline of the CFTA agreement; liberalization of trade in goods including modalities for eliminating import duties, non-tariff barriers, quantitative restrictions and rules of origin; trade remedies; customs cooperation and trade facilitation; trade related areas, including technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures; dispute settlement; and modalities for negotiations in services, agriculture and the industrial pillar.

Mega Trade Agreement a Step Forward for the Continent – Lopes

Mega Trade Agreement a Step Forward for the Continent – Lopes

The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Carlos Lopes has lauded the tripartite free trade area agreement reached by three Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, EAC and SADC) as “a step in the right direction for the Continent.”

In their opening statements, representatives from the AUC, NEPAD, ADB and ECA all emphasized the importance of the meeting in relation to the technical preparations for the CFTA negotiations. It was noted, particularly, that the CFTA is a huge and complex institutional and legal structure, which is expected to include all the 54 AU member states.

For the CFTA to be established by the target date of 2017, negotiations will need to be conducted effectively and concluded expeditiously. It was within the framework of providing technical support to the CFTA Negotiating Forum and facilitating the process of the CFTA negotiations, therefore, that the CFTA Task Force requested input from the expert group.

The group agreed on a proposed outline of the CFTA agreement and follow-up work to prepare a working draft for an initial exchange of views ahead of the first substantive CFTA trade-negotiating forum in April 2016.

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