Sunday, November 15, 2015

The African Union Commission engages the Private Sector on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)

 Victoria, Seychelles – 12 November 2015. The African Union Commission (AUC) engaged the Private Sector on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations processes during a three-day Conference of the African Private Sector that ended today in Victoria, Seychelles. The conference was organized by the AUC in partnership with the Pan African Chamber of Commerce (PACCI) and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The objectives of this conference included enabling private sector participants to dialogue with the Commission and sharing knowledge and experience about the CFTA.
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The governance structure of the CFTA provides for the establishment of an African Business Council as a necessary platform for aggregating and articulating the views of the Private Sector in the continental policy formulation processes. The ABC will thus be instrumental in collecting, processing and presenting the views of the private and business operators throughout the African continent.

Mrs. Treasure Thembisile Maphanga, Director of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, reminded the participants that if Africa has to double intra-African Trade - one key aspiration embedded under the African Union Agenda 2063 – there is need to fast-track the establishment of the CFTA negotiations by the indicative deadline of 2017. To achieve this milestone, she invited the Private Sector to partner with the African Union Commission in implementing the mandate and urged the Private Sector to take ownership of the process establishing the African Business Council.  Underscoring that this is an ambitious agenda the Director emphasized the importance of the Private Sector in leapfrogging in terms of integration. 
Sharing the same sentiments, the President of Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Eng. Peter Chisawillo pointed out that Private Sector is fundamental to boosting Intra-African Trade. He welcomed the CFTA negotiations and stressed the readiness of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture to support the initiative. “Africa must do business with Africa first. We have to think continentally about competitiveness and Africa’s share in global trade”, he said. In support, the CEO of the East Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Charles Kahuthu echoed, “The African Business Council is the way to go for Africa.”
Appreciating the consultation by the African Union Commission, the President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Seth Adjei Baah, pointed out that ‘’we are all working together for the common good of Africa’’. He advised that the establishment of the African Business Council should not weaken existing Private Sector organizations that are operating at national, regional and continental levels.
The meeting concluded with a Communiqué that raised observations and recommendations by the Private Sector for further consultations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Business Councils, Regional/National Chambers of Commerce, among others, on the establishment of the African Business Council.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) also provided  technical inputs that support the process of establishing a dialogue platform between the African Union and the Private Sector.

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