Dr. Ashatu Kijaji Emphasizes the Utilization of AfCFTA Opportunities to Boost Trade

Durban, South Africa: In a move to enhance intra-African trade, Dr. Ashatu Kijaji, the Minister of Industry and Trade, and the Chairperson of the 13th African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Ministers of Trade Meeting, has urged member countries to optimally utilize the available opportunities within the AfCFTA framework to bolster trade across the continent.

Addressing delegates at the opening of the 13th AfCFTA Trade Ministers Meeting held in Durban, South Africa, from January 30 to 31, 2024, Dr. Kijaji highlighted the critical role of AfCFTA in regional economic development. She emphasized the need for member countries to work collaboratively in finalizing the Investment Protocol, the Digital Trade Protocol, and negotiations on the Rules of Origin. Additionally, she stressed the importance of resolving key issues related to dispute resolution mechanisms in trade.

Dr. Kijaji further elaborated on the collective efforts under the AfCFTA agreement, stating that it would significantly contribute to addressing various challenges. These include improving transportation infrastructure such as roads, railways, and air travel, enhancing security, addressing the energy deficit, increasing production, and improving communication networks.

The 13th Ministers of Trade meeting was preceded by several preparatory meetings at the expert level, including the 16th meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials and the 10th meeting on Commercial Dispute Resolution held from January 23 to 29, 2024.

The AfCFTA agreement, a landmark trade deal in the African continent, aims to create a single market for goods and services, facilitating free movement of people and capital, and laying the groundwork for establishing a Customs Union. It is expected to increase Africa’s trading position in the global market, significantly boosting intra-Africa trade, enhancing competitiveness, and supporting sustainable development.

Dr. Kijaji’s call to action underscores the urgency for member states to fully embrace the AfCFTA’s potential. By effectively leveraging the AfCFTA platform, member countries can unlock new growth opportunities, foster regional integration, and accelerate economic transformation across the African continent.