The Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) for Africa can help raise the level of intra-African trade by 35 billion US dollars annually, or 52 per cent above the baseline, by 2022, according to the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union (AU) Commission.

Fatima Haram Acyl, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry told the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) here Tuesday that the establishment of a continental Free Trade Area (FTA), in particular, would create a single market for goods and services in Africa, providing a good reason to invest in the continent.

“We need to build our domestic industries’ productive capacities and technological capabilities through regional value chains by giving focus on five key areas — infrastructure, trade facilitation, rules of origin, trade finance and quality infrastructure,” she said in an interview.

Fatima also called for the acceleration of industrialization in Africa through promoting regional value chains. Citing reports by international management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, she said consumer spending in Africa would rise from 860 billion USD in 2010 to 1.4 trillion USD by 2020, thus potentially lifting millions out of poverty.

“We need to prioritize the strategic industrial sectors where we have comparative advantages and have growth potential particularly in areas such as agro-industry, mining, pharmaceutical industry and SMEs (small, mediaum enterprises),” she added.

However, she stressed that “the emergence of Mega Regional Trade Agreements continue to threaten Africa’s market access in established markets, severely diminishing the value of preferences such as AGOA and EBAs, and it appears that this trend will continue to accelerate”

Source: ENA