05/02/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/02/2019 09:18
Network members with stakeholders at recent Monrovia meeting
Photo Credit: Public Affairs
Members of the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network have called on countries that have not ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), to consider doing so without any further delay. The call by the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network comes in the wake of the fast the approaching official launch of the AfCFTA, scheduled for July 2019 in Niamey, Niger, on the sidelines of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
The implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to lead to increase in the volume of exports by US$35 billion per year, representing 52% of exports, and the reduction of imports by US$10 billion. Making the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement workable through ratification by all member countries will also see agricultural and industrial exports increased from US$4 billion to US$21 billion. Knowledgeable minds and their likes in the field of economics strongly believe that such development has the potential to create employment and wealth on the African continent. With average tariffs at 6.1%, companies currently face higher tariffs when exporting goods within Africa, while they pay lower tariffs when they export goods outside the continent.
The AfCFTA, a flagship project, carved out of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled for 2022 and mainly included in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, has enormous advantages and potentials.
These enormous advantages and potentials include significantly increasing intra-African trade, and also stimulating and encouraging investment, innovation, and the structural transformation of African economies in order to improve food security, economic growth, exports diversification and the rationalization of the trade regimes of the economic communities.
It is also in the spirit of a dynamic and expanding trade in Africa that the ECOWAS Economic Journalists Network is urging signatory countries to consider negotiating, among other things, the aspects and modalities of the implementation of this agreement, including rules of origin, payment terms, tariff concessions for merchandise trade and settlement and non-tariff barriers.
Political and economic pundits also believe that the AfCFTA will give birth to a large single and common continental market, and has the potential for the economic integration of 1.2 billion people, representing a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion in all the 55 African Union Member States.
'The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa would like to take the opportunity to thank the Sub-regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (SRO-WA/ECA), for having organized a workshop on the AfCFTA for journalists from West Africa in February 2019 in Monrovia (Liberia), in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),' a release from Niamey (Niger), said.
The Monrovia workshop, among other things enabled the Network, not only to understand the innovations and opportunities of the AfCFTA, but also, through the various communication materials, to enhance the awareness of the populations of ECOWAS.
Meanwhile the Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa has repeatedly expressed its commitment to supporting all AfCFTA initiatives, so that regional integration in the five sectors, namely trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration, are translated into reality and contribute towards the structural and socio-economic transformation of the African Continent.
It can be recalled that on March 21, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda, a historic meeting of the century was held, where Heads of the Member States of the African Union (AU) Commission initiated the creation of the world's largest free trade area, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The implementation of this agreement should increase the volume of trade in goods by 16%, and is also expected to make 90% of trade in goods free of customs duties.
A year after its signing, the 22 ratifications required for its implementation were completed when The Gambia, on April 4, 2019 ratified the Agreement. 'The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa welcomes this commitment and expresses gratitude to the Heads of State and Government of Africa,' the release the release. The Network of Economic Journalists for West Africa was initiated and formed under the leadership of the Sub-Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Amongst other things, the Network highlights economic and environmental issues in the West African Sub-region. Its membership is made up of journalists from all the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Liberia represented by experienced broadcast journalist and Former Press Union of Liberia Vice President and current Communications Director at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Jacob N.B. Parley and the Editor-In-Chief at the Heritage Newspaper, Augustus D.R. Bortue.