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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

ECA reiterates call to address infrastructure
gap to boost intra-African trade 

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has reiterated the need to address limited connectivity within Africa to boost intra-African trade.

This came on Wednesday during the opening of the Aid for Trade Global Review 2017 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, according to ECA’s statement on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Stephen Karingi, Director at ECA Capacity Development Division, emphasized the need to boost intra-African trade, which currently stands at a mere 13 percent of the continent’s total trade.

“As the ECA, we are saying there’s need for African governments to do more to grow intra-African trade,” the Director said, underlining that Africa’s relatively low intra-regional trade is as a result of barriers created by limited connectivity within the continent. 

“With this we should think of physical connectivity, infrastructure, where the gaps remain significant,” said Karingi while speaking to participants at the Africa Session of the Aid for Trade Global Review 2017. 

“Equally, we should consider softer aspects of connectivity. Non-tariff and tariff costs both influence how African countries can link with each other,” he added.

Boosting intra-African trade is the most effective channel for trade to deliver development on the African continent, said Karingi, adding deeper trade integration is the surest way to speed up Africa’s economic transformation.

“Trade contributes towards industrialization and structural transformation. Intra-African trade currently stands at a mere 13 percent of the continent’s total trade, which is very low,” has noted the Director. 

Higher volumes of intra-African trade are essential so African countries can do business with each other more frequently and with wider margins, said Karingi.

Policies to enhance intra-regional trade on the continent are crucial, he said, adding that strategies to implement, enforce and monitor their progress and impact are also needed.

This year’s Global Review is dedicated to the theme of “Promoting Trade, Inclusiveness and Connectivity for Sustainable Development.”

It is expected to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to look at how Aid for Trade (AfT) can contribute to the integration of developing countries and least developed countries into the multilateral trading system and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Key initiatives on the continent for boosting intra-African trade include the on-going Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations, and the Boosting Intra-African Trade initiative (BIAT), has noted Karingi.

BIAT is a useful framework for addressing connectivity issues in Africa while the CFTA aims to, among other things, create a single continental market for goods and services, promote the free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade, he said. 

 

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