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
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
“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,