UNECA announces initiative to spur role of AfCFTA in Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery

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ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has announced an initiative to assist African countries to craft national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement implementation strategies in line with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

The assistance to African countries will be underpinned by an assessment of the environmental impacts that could result from increased economic and trade activities under the AfCFTA in order to devise mitigation actions, the UNECA said in a statement.

As part of the initiative, the UNCEA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) on Wednesday launched a complementary research project in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET).

The joint research initiative is expected to determine how climate change-related risks could alter comparative advantages and trade patterns or affect infrastructure, and identify adverse effects on particular sectors such as agriculture and tourism, a UNECA statement quoted David Luke, coordinator of ATPC, as saying.

The research, with a focus on the role of the AfCFTA in promoting resilient recovery in Africa, is expected to guide how the Green Recovery Action Plan (GRAP) of African Union (AU) can be better aligned with the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation to put Africa on a more sustainable and resilient economic recovery path.

The research outcome is expected to be tabled at the World Trade Organization (WTO) public forum in September and on the sidelines of COP26 in November, where the UNECA and its partners will review and discuss how the findings and recommendations can be taken forward.

Trading under the AfCFTA started on Jan. 1, 2021.

On Wednesday, Algeria submitted its instrument of ratification of the AfCFTA agreement to the AU Commission, making it the 37th African country to have done so.

The AfCFTA is set to create the largest free trade area in the world, with a market of more than 12 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars, according to the UNECA. Source: Xinhua