Abuja, 16 July 2018: - The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will progressively eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade, making it easier for businesses to trade within the continent, cater to and benefit from the growing African market, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said today.
Citing the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Oramah stated that that the AfCFTA had the potential to boost intra-African trade by 53.2 per cent by eliminating import duties and to double such trade if non-tariff barriers were also reduced.
He was speaking during a panel discussion titled ‘A Single Continental Market – Salvation for Africa’s economies?’, which was hosted by Afreximbank in Abuja as part of an engagement event to promote the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) scheduled to take place in Cairo from 11 to 17 December.
Also participating in the panel were Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment of Nigeria; Amb. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union; Aliko Dangote, Chairman & CEO, Dangote Group; and Iyalode Alaba Lawson, President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
“Trade is the gateway to development and statistics in Africa are not too impressive, especially when it comes to one of the biggest opportunities for growth: trade among African countries,” said Dr. Oramah. “Infrastructure development is a top developmental priority in Africa in two critical areas: electricity and transport. Access to electricity forms the basis of an industrialized economy and, hence, trade. Unless we can do something to tackle this issue, we have no hope of increasing intra-regional trade in Africa.
“We have realised that sustainable economic growth on the continent cannot be achieved quickly without participation from both the private and public sectors. The private sector has a crucial role to play in making regional integration work for Africa because, though trade agreements are signed by Governments, it is the private sector that understands the constraints facing enterprises and is in a position to take advantage of the opportunities created by such agreements and regional trade initiatives,” he added.
The President urged African Governments to create more space for the private sector to play an active role in the integration process instead of leaving the sector to act as a passive participant.
The Intra-African Trade Fair, being held in collaboration with the African Union and the Export Development Authority, which is representing the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, is one of many steps being taken to ensure that continental trade becomes a fast reality.