From May 29-30, 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) held a Gambian Private Sector Workshop on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA was launched on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and a year later, the Gambia was the 22nd nation (the minimum threshold needed for the Agreement to enter into force) to ratify the agreement and deposit its instruments of ratification with the AU Commission Chairperson.
As a result, the AfCFTA entered into force on May 30, 2019. The AfCFTA means expanded market access, lower transaction costs and economies of scale. Additionally, there are opportunities to increase access to cheaper raw materials and intermediate inputs and improve conditions for integration in regional and global value chains.
“This agreement could be a game changer for The Gambia, and the private sector need to be ready to seize induced opportunities” said Mr. Raimund Moser, Programme Development Adviser, International Trade Centre.
The AfCFTA, which will reduce 90% of tariff lines to zero, will provide the country’s business environment with a much-needed boost. The workshop elaborated on forthcoming reforms and related business implications of the AfCFTA for Gambian businesses.
“The Gambian business community has a key role to play during all phases of the AfCFTA. This is important for the country to maximise the benefits of the Agreement” said Ghitu Mundunge Economic Affairs Officer, ECA Sub regional Office for West Africa.
The workshop covered the current state of play of the provisions and protocols of the agreement; provided insights into the business implications of AfCFTA with a view to equipping stakeholders to both anticipate and influence policies; enhanced their knowledge to engage effectively in business advocacy, public-private dialogue and cooperation mechanisms.
Mr Ebrima Drammeh, Deputy Permanent Secretary (representing the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration & Employment) said “The workshop offers the opportunity for the private sector in The Gambia to influence policy debate for AfCFTA implementation”
Komi Tsowou, Economic Affairs Officer from the African Trade Policy Center of ECA explained that “Elaborating an effective AfCFTA strategy overseen by a national committee including the private sector remains very critical in the implementation and monitoring of the Agreement” This workshop is part of a wider project aimed at Deepening Africa’s Trade integration through Effective Implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to identify the key elements to be considered in national AfCFTA implementation strategies.
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