Through AfCFTA, industrialization will help create employment for Africa’s youth, thereby improving livelihoods, access to education and health. Photo: Xinhua

INTERNATIONAL –  The Africa Trade Forum 2018, hosted by Nigeria’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, and co-organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), The Rockefeller Foundation, and the African Union Commission (AUC), is set to take place on 2-3 November, 2018 in Lagos.

The Forum will bring together stakeholders from across the continent, from political and governance spheres, the private sector and entrepreneurs, philanthropies, academia, researchers, and development partners, to discuss the process for realizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The AfCFTA was signed in March 2018 by 44 African countries and, if ratified, will become one of the world’s largest trading blocs. It is also the biggest trade agreement signed since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established, bringing together 1.3 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion in a single market. The agreement aims to provide improved competition and lower business costs.

The Forum’s purpose is to look into the challenges and opportunities of the AfCFTA in individual African states, and to better understand how AfCFTA can drive economic development and prosperity on the continent for all of Africa’s citizens.

“The idea of an integrated African market to industrialize Africa, spur growth, enhance welfare and create jobs has been around for a long time. However, with the actual emergence of the AfCFTA in 2018, the decision was taken by the Government to mobilize stakeholders in the Nigerian economy to understand its details, interpret its opportunities and reorganize our economic system for coherence and coordination, if the opportunities of the AfCFTA are to be realized and maximized. This Forum is a unique opportunity to proactively engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that AfCFTA works for Nigeria,” says Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The AfCFTA offers a long-awaited platform for Africa to ramp up its industrialization through various channels such as eliminating tariffs on intra-African trade, which will result in more competitive services that reduce business costs, improve business efficiency, and enhance value to consumers.

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary Vera Songwe says in an age of trade wars, Africa is sending a strong message that trade deals and reforms can be approached through consensus-building and cooperation, leaving no one behind.

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