OBJECTIVES OF THE EAST AFRICA TRADE WEEK 2018 (EATW 2018)
In hosting the 2018 East Africa Trade Week, the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (EACCIA) primary objective is to integrate the AfCFTA agenda, as articulated in the recent Africa Prosperity Conference (APC) in Accra, in September 2017 and in Kigali on 21st March, 2018, within the EAC member states and the continent, through network of Chambers, and business associations, and advance the EAC region and Africa-wide development agenda as championed by the African Union (AU), notably, by engaging the private sector, building the capacity of continental and regional chambers of commerce and facilitating trade as potential vehicles for facilitating the achievement of AfCFTA.
The African Prosperity Conference (APC) on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which was held in Accra, Ghana, on September 12 and 13, 2017 whose theme was “Exploring Possibilities for Business Engagement across Africa” highlighted the business communities’ proposals to advance the AfCFTA in efforts to reflect and bring a critical perspective on Africa’s economic potential and challenges. The meeting came up with five resolutions to:
i) Engage the Private Sector; calling on PACCI to take the lead to draft the proposal to create the African Trade and Investment Panel (ATIP) that represents the various private sector interests, such as the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, business councils, industry associations, and other similar business support organizations established for aggregating and articulating the views of the private sector, identify priority areas and advice to promote economic cooperation and integration in continental policy formulation.
ii) Build the capacity of continental and regional chambers of commerce; to bridge the gap in trade negotiations in efforts to streamline technically complex issues, such as intellectual property rights, environmental protection, and labor rights that often lead towards re-regulation as well as de-regulation of the economy.
iii) Facilitate trade; calling on PACCI to undertake a study to assess the value of preferential arrangements to the recipient countries, including case studies of selected countries and commodities to determine assistance, including legal support, aimed at helping African exporters to cope with technical standards affecting trade, and to penetrate markets of growing interest such as organic products. In the area of trade facilitation, the meeting resolved that the AfCFTA should have commitments relating to opening times for ports, the establishment and maintenance of One Stop Border Stops (OSBPs) and Single Windows, the establishment of authorized operator programs with a view to facilitating regional trade, promoting the use of electronic or on-line processing/procedures, interoperability and sharing of information from customs and other border agencies between African countries.
iv) Build productive capacity; calling on Governments to make AGOA work by improving its impact notably by reducing to zero all tariffs on agriculture exports from AGOA-eligible countries. In addition, the EU-Africa Business Forum should change its current format and focus more on business to business contacts facilitating trading between European and African business entities.
v) Finance trade for intra-African trade; reiterating the need for financial institutions to do more to take into account the needs of SMEs when introducing financial system regulations, including making financing rules and procedures related to exports more simple, to rationalize and streamline loan procedures in support of SMEs.
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