By Richard Adorsu-
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Accra, Ghana- Policy and advocacy think tank, AfroChampions, is urging African Trade Ministers to convene a virtual summit under the aegis of the African Union to keep on track the operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the policy group, this high-level meeting would be an opportunity to discuss practical measures to pursue African economic integration despite the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of the existing AfCFTA provisions to respond to the health emergency, and to also consider a broader strengthening of capacities and infrastructure to help Africa recover from the crisis over the long-term.
The AfroChampions Initiative, in an official appeal, proposed the summit to also include economic decision-makers, heads of African multinationals and business associations as well as representatives of the continent’s major financial institutions.
It also stated, the agenda should be concise and action-oriented to address operational measures, the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers for the free movement of goods, medical supplies, and commodities required to limit the spread of the coronavirus as well as its effects in the communities.
It is also proposing overall strategic measures continuation of the existing negotiations on key AfCFTA aspects operationalization of the Secretariat, prioritization of some initial implementation of protocols, starting July 2020, it will help Africa recover quicker from the economic disruptions of COVID-19.
Paulo Gomes, Vice President of the AfroChampions Initiative and former Executive Director at the World Bank, stated that, “Some observers believe that the AfCFTA is meant to fail because the required infrastructure is not yet in place. COVID-19 is a reason to accelerate AfCFTA; not slow it down as is now the case.
Confronted with emergency, forces us to move forward. In the current crisis, we can implement great measures in the health sector to support local production of equipment’s, boost orders of ‘made in Africa’ in the pharmaceuticals sector and expand research on needed medicines.
It could also translate to transportation and logistics costs reduction, and facilitate timely deliveries, region to region in the Continent. All these, the AfCFTA can provide concrete answers. With this test in the health sector, it will also help us learn useful lessons from other sectors and help our companies strive.”
We are hopeful, the proposed virtual summit of Trade Ministers be confirm soon, the AfroChampions Initiative and its research department have developed the first set of proposals for discussion on how the AfCFTA adjust to the COVID-19 disruptions and set on track. Several business leaders from the AfroChampions network and regional business associations have also been approached to contribute to this agenda.
For New Africa Business News Richard Adorsu Reports, Africa Correspondent
AFRICA’S MOST READ AND FASTEST GROWING GLOBAL NEWSPAPER – www.newafricabusinessnews.com