ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) — African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development on Monday called for swift actions towards realizing the continent’s ambitions through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, addressing a High-level Ministerial Dialogue on the AfCFTA as part of the ongoing 51st ministerial conference In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on Monday, have voiced joint support to the free trade pact.
Implementation of the AfCFTA, including internal reforms for member countries to fully benefit from the initiative, the strategic decisions to maximize countries’ competitiveness, taxation issues and the importance of international cooperation on the field, were among the major topics raised during the high-level ministerial dialogue.
According to Aia-Eza Nacilia Gomes Da Silva, Angola’s Secretary of State for Budget, “free trade is not just a matter of being together, it’s a matter of changing internal structures, having uniform policies, and preparing agendas that are not conflicting with international commitments.”
Ghanaian Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta also urged African countries to ratify the continental free trade area pact, which he said would enable Africa to start implementing the agreement for the benefit of its people.
“Ghana always felt that a much more united Africa will benefit all of us,” he added.
The African Union also called on its member states to believe on the importance of the continental free trade area.
“The challenge we face is that not all of us in Africa believe the AfCFTA can be made to deliver,” said AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga.
“We need to ensure that all of us change our mindsets and believe we can do it,” Muchanga said.
He also revealed that the feedback given by the 11 countries who haven’t signed the AfCFTA is “promising.”
The AfCFTA was signed by 44 member states of the AU’s 55 member states earlier this year, while Kenya and Ghana handed over to the AU the documents ratifying the pact last Thursday.
A minimum of 22 countries are needed for the AfCFTA to come into force as Kenya and Ghana have become the first two countries to do so.
The five-day gathering, from May 11 to 15, discusses the potential for AfCFTA as a powerful tool to drive industrialization, economic diversification and overall development on the African continent.
Among other things, it aims to advance the ambitious initiative to form a regional common market that could boost intra-African trade to 52 percent by 2022, up from the current level of only 16 percent, organizers said.