The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will provide a new impetus to the continent’s industrialization agenda through increased intra-African trade.
Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), LI Yong, stated this in Calabar, Cross River State capital, at a symposium to commemorate the Africa Industrialization Day (AID) 2019, with the theme, “Positioning African Industry to supply the AfCFTA Market”.
Yong who was represented by Jean Bakole, UNIDO Representative to ECOWAS and Regional Director, Nigeria Regional Office Hub, stated: “Once operational, the free trade area will cover a market of over 1.2 billion people, and is expected to generate a gross domestic product (GDP) to the tune of $2.5 trillion. With 55 member States of the African Union, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area.
“AfCFTA is indeed a golden opportunity to make optimal use of the regional market, develop local and regional value chains to produce products according to international standards. A collective response is critical in order to strive in an internationally competitive environment.
“By strengthening country-specific and regional comparative advantages in terms of resources, information, knowledge, skills and institutions, Africa can emerge as a strong industrial power in the near future.
Speaking during the event, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said that the Nigerian government is committed to resolving the constraints which remain in the country’s business environment to ensure maximum benefit.
“If Africa is to fulfil its potential of diversifying and transforming their economies through AfCFTA, African countries must begin the work of implementing strategies for exports, diversification, industrialization, and value chain development. “The road ahead to realising these opportunities are tough and challenging but we have no choice but to tackle them head-on. On our part, the Nigerian government is committed to resolving the constraints which remain in our business environment,” he said.
In a joint statement by UNIDO, United Nations Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA), and the African Union Commission (AUC) at the end of the symposium, the stated: “We, therefore, urged African states to deploy energies towards implementing the ancillary, yet strategic activities during the intervening period leading to 1 July 2020, when formal free trade commences, to ensure a seamless transition to the free trade area.”