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Business News of Thursday, 17 November 2022

Source: Single African Market

Africans advised to leverage on AfCFTA and trade in basic agric products

Wamkele Mene, AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene, AfCFTA Secretary-General

Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), H.E. Wamkele Mene is advising Africans to develop agricultural food value chains, eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in basic agricultural products and take advantage of the AfCFTA to achieve food security in Africa and uplift smallholder farmers and place them along the value chain of agriculture and agro-processing.

Speaking to International Economists and Trade Lawyers at the 2022 annual tralac conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, the AfCFTA Secretary General recounted the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent conflict situation between Russia and Ukraine as an eye-opener for Africa that should galvanized African governments, since 30% inflation has resulted from the Russia-Ukraine conflict alone, leading to food insecurity in Africa as there is about 70% reliance on grains from Ukraine and Russia in spite of the fact Africa has over 60% of the world’s arable land.

“These two events are indeed in terms of magnitude have compelled the African Continent to rethink its place in the global order and to rethink how trade can be deployed to respond to such prices”.

In addition to the above two major events recounted by the AfCFTA Secretary General, about 50% of the countries that are most affected by climate change in the world are African countries who are facing severe climate change negative effects such as droughts, floods risk, storms, rising sea levels affecting low-lying areas and coastal cities, water shortages, declining crop yields, especially in tropical zones, food crises, etc. And these negative effects are leading to the destruction of tropical forests, malnutrition, the spread of vector-borne diseases e.g., malaria, dengue fever, etc., Physical displacement of populations and risks of mass migrations, damage to ecosystems, and species extinction, Sudden shifts in weather patterns etc.

“And so, The African Continental Free Trade Area is being implemented at a time when these shifts in global order are taking place and whiles on the face of it, the shift may appear as a crisis in the form of the food insecurity, it is actually an opportunity for the African Continent to reconfigure the legal architecture for trade, the trade policy architecture within which we operate as a continent," the AfCFTA Secretary General explained.

H.E Wamkele Mene underscored that on food insecurity, Africa has a very unique opportunity to accelerate and boost intra-Africa trade in Agricultural products.

“We can move very rapidly and ensure that there is zero duty, quota-free, duty-free trade in agricultural and basic agricultural products and Africa can take that decision immediately as a response to the crisis ensuring that we have food security as well as placing smallholder farmers in the middle of the value chain to provide food security in Africa”.