African Continental Free Trade Area Envisaged as Windfall for African Regional and International Agri-Food Market a News Divulges
By Abdul Rahman Bangura–
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Freetown, Sierra Leone- The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), slated to liftoff in January 2021, is inclined to be a godsend for African regional and international agri-food trade, according to reports. Agrarian connoisseurs at the Malabo Montpellier Panel evaluated the probable chances for African national administrations and its eight regional economic communities to trade further effectively in this new dispensation, encompassing paths to influence informal cross-border trade.
Yet, informal trade accounts for 30 to 40% of total trade within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and as vastly as 86% of Uganda’s official exports. The AfCFTA will be one of the vastest free trade areas in the world since the constitution of the World Trade Organization (WTO), coating a demand of more than 1.2
billion people and up to $3 trillion in melted GDP. The pact also establishes the alternative to boost intra-African trade by more than 50%, expanding a totaled $76 billion in revenue to the rest of the world.
“Lagging far behind other major regions of the world like the EU in terms of trade between individual countries, the African Union and its member states have made a commitment to foster the links between domestic markets across the continent,” noted Ousmane Badiane, Co-Chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel, that penned the document.
“This new trade deal comes at an opportune time for the continent to support fast transforming economies and meet a surging domestic demand fueled by a rapidly growing population and urban middle class.”
The trade area arrives into regiment, as the Africa population proceeds to soaring, from 1.2 billion people to a rated 2.2 billion by 2050, building exponential demand. Also, the landmass already depends on food and agricultural imports worth roughly $72 billion per year, accumulating by 3.6% each year of late. And in the depth of the Novel
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, figures show that, Africa’s marketing percentages are cast to reduce by 8% for exports and about 16% for imports during 2020. In this regard, the Panel’s propositions comprise enhancing information and data on cross border trade, especially on informal cross-border trade, for example, data on its scale,
quality of products, and patterns of trade flows. This would help in streamlining regulations, providing train cross-border hygiene, strengthening access to finance, and addressing entrepreneurship skills.
“Many of those reliant on cross-border trade for their lively life are women, who have been disproportionately affected by restrictions, border closures and curfews enforced due to Covid-19, alongside gender-based discrimination and violence,” noted Ishmael Sunga, member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU).
“Once the AfCFTA is in place, wages for skilled and unskilled women are expected to rise by up to 4% by 2035, through new employment opportunities across the agriculture value chain.”
The document delineates how to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, and how to enhance and improve infrastructure, for example by addressing clunky customs procedures, roadblocks, subsidies, and technical barriers such as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules.
Modern digital antidotes can assist, such as introducing radio frequency identification (RFID) or microchipping for tracking livestock, or the digital repository and exchange of safety certificates for easy and quick transmission across countries. It also furnishes instances of how to enrich value chain competitiveness and bolster emergency preparedness and resilience, with priority positioned on those food products that are of high value and contribute to increase nourishment at the same time. This warnings for enterprises into the layout and improvement of technologies that enhance both the quantity and quality of food.
Similarly, the requirement of training facilities desires to be strengthened to improve access to reliefs for skill development and innovation capacity along the value chain.
“Rule-based open trade is essential for efficient and sustainable African food system and keeps food prices more stable, which is good for producers and consumers,” said Joachim von Braun, co-chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel.
“The next ambition can be a fair and deep trade partnership between the African Union and the European Community.”
Every year, between 10 and 12 million young Africans enter the job market, competing for one of only about 3.1 million jobs established. Though farming and non formal sectors are already the impressive employers on the continent, they are liable to expedite employment innovation as the need for food across the mainland surges.
“As mechanization and digitalization expand across food systems, new entrepreneurship opportunities – beyond the farm – will emerge in the agri-food sector, creating the potential for high-quality, sustainable jobs across Africa,” told Debisi Araba, member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel member and Managing Director of the African
Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
The Panel brought out on the occasions of Africa’s existing regional trading blocs, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), encompassing governance systems, institutional policy innovations, and programmatic interventions. (PANA/NAN)
For New Africa Business News (NABN) Abdul Rahman Bangura Reports, Africa Correspondent
AFRICA’S MOST READ AND FASTEST GROWING GLOBAL NEWSPAPER – www.newafricabusinessnews.com