Senior officials in charge of industrial production, services and trade issues, as well as representatives of the private sector, civil society, the academia and the media of Gabon have been convened to a National Awareness and Sensitization Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), from February 26 to 27, 2020, at the King’s Choice Appart Hotel in Libreville.
Funded by the European Union, the forum will be facilitated by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its African Trade Policy Center (ATPC) and its Subregional Office for Central Africa, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism , Trade, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Industry of the Gabonese Republic.
The national forum aims to raise awareness among stakeholders about the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement, signed on March 21, 2018 and ratified on July 02, 2019 by Gabon. They will be provided with contextual information on the Agreement, the expected effects of its implementation and the strategic directions envisaged by the Government in rendering the continental market operational.
In addition, the forum will give participants the opportunity to express their expectations and comments regarding the approach to be taken for the preparation of an AfCFTA national implementation strategy for Gabon.
About a hundred representatives from several sectors who will participate in this meeting, will leave from there with a common understanding of the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA and highlights for the strategy that Gabon will elaborate to take advantage of this new continental market.
AfCFTA: show time for Gabon and other African countries
The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been operational since May 30, 2019, and trade under its canopy would begin on July 1, 2020 after the dismantling of customs duties.
Through the AfCFTA, Africa is pursuing, its economic integration agenda as provided for in Agenda 2063’s goal of an Africa without borders, by boosting regional trade through industrialization, healthy economic growth and greater sustainable development.
African countries have, through the Agreement, committed to abolishing tariffs on 90% of the goods they produce. In this context, intra-African trade is likely to increase by 52.3% by 2020 and attract to Gabon, a large flow of investments and opportunities, especially in the areas where the country has comparative advantages.
The potential gains of the AfCFTA imply a new model for African trade and development. It is obvious that the gains will not be automatic. The AfCFTA will yield expected results only if Gabon, like the other member States, takes deliberate action and deploy needful efforts through a national reform strategy. Such a strategy must be efficient and integrated in order to maximize the gains of the AfCFTA, while minimizing adjustment costs for the country.