Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has asked the African Union (AU) member states to expedite the signing and ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA). This, she says, will allow the continent to freely access each other’s market with minimum or no hassle at all.
Ms Kyambadde who is the chairperson of the AfCFTA negotiations, made the appeal while opening the seven-day meeting of African Ministers of Trade in Cairo, Egypt last week.
Eight months later, out of the 55 member states of the AU, only nine countries including Uganda have deposited instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission despite signing the AfCFTA Agreement at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.
Continental Free Trade Area
The Continental Free Trade Area agreement will come into force 30 days after the twenty second member out of the 55 has deposited their instrument of ratification. This is in accordance with the African Union procedures.
According to Ms Kyambadde, there is need for member states to ratify the agreement to enable its implementation to commence.
She said: “As chairperson, I am appealing to members to take the bold step to sign and ratify the agreement. This agreement is a leverage to prosperity and socio-economic transformation of our peoples. It fulfils our aspirations of Agenda 2063.”
According to information about the proceedings of the meeting Daily Monitor accessed, Ms Kyambadde reminded her counterparts about the solemn promise they made to the 1.2 billion people at the Kigali meeting and added “but unfortunately they are still lamenting.”
“Let us enforce this AfCFTA in a phased manner and within a specified time frame. Otherwise, we shall be devoured up by our detractors’ negative perspective. If we do not fast-rack the implementation of our goals and aspirations through AfCTFA, we shall become a laughing stock of our detractors,” she warned.
Commissioner for External Trade in the Trade Ministry Silver Ojakol says in statement that the AfCFTA agreement is crucial to Uganda as it provides expanded markets for our growing economic operations.
According to her, Africa must re-focus to improve Intra-Africa trade which is now barely 18 per cent compared to Europe (67 per cent), North America (58 per cent) and Latin America at 20 per cent.
On access to finance, Kyambadde said there is need to put in place innovative smart solutions to fund business upstarts; especially women and youth entrepreneurs, like the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship programme.
The African Ministers of Trade meeting coincided with the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, the first exhibition to bring together African countries to showcase their potential.
The seven day-trade fair was organised by the Government of Egypt under the auspices of the Africa Union as one of the initiatives to promote intra-Africa trade.
Ten Ugandan companies from tourism, tea, coffee, textiles, horticulture and Uganda Manufacturers Association participated in the Intra-Africa Trade Fair.