The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations are moving in the right direction and while the first phase of the project is expected to be concluded by the end of 2017.
Mr David Luke, Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), said this in a statement obtained from the ECA website by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.
The website quoted Luke as having this said this at the just concluded Aid for Trade Global Review 2017, where ECA unveiled a publication titled: “The CFTA in Africa – A Human Rights.”
The coordinator noted that the negotiations were at the desired pace.
He said the CFTA negotiating principles emphasised the importance of ensuring that the process was inclusive, consultative and participatory.
The discussions were held under the topic; “The CFTA: Ensuring Inclusive Outcomes through Boosting Intra-African Trade and Connectivity,” he said.
While updating participants on the negotiations, Luke further said the final agreement would be expected include provisions of importance to ensuring a win-win CFTA.
“The CFTA cannot be win-win unless it is consistent with the economic justice and human rights values that are embodied in Africa’s Agenda 2063. ‘’
He said the win-win would also be consistent with “the global Agenda 2030, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and international human rights treaties African countries have signed up to.”
“The CFTA offers the continent an important tool for achieving Africa’s poverty reduction objectives contained in the continent’s Agenda 2063 and the Global Agenda 2030”
He also said that the CFTA provided a variety of opportunities that catered for the diversity of African countries, including the resource-rich, agricultural-based, or more industrialised ones.
Luke called on ECA and its partners to continue their research on the CFTA and promote the importance of human rights in the context of Africa’s trade.
He said CFTA was expected to bring together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than 3.4 trillion dollars.
‘’With the CFTA, African leaders aim to, among other things, create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade.
‘’It is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.’’