Dr. Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu (above) is Head of CAADP, NEPAD Agency and based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mark Kofi Fynn is GIZ-seconded CAADP Advisor at the African Union Commission and based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

01.12.2016

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The African Union Heads of State and Government have committed to boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services. What has already been achieved in this respect, and where is there still a need for further action? A plea for concerted efforts to solidify the integration of the continent.

Trade is recognised as an important driving force of the transformation of African agriculture. Agricultural trade, both intra-African and with the rest of the world, is linked with food security, growth, jobs and higher incomes. However, many African countries face barriers that prevent them from benefiting from this potential. These include non-tariff barriers (NTB), which are becoming ever more important, and traditional tariff barriers. Both categories of barriers exist in export markets. In addition, internal barriers including inimical policies, excessive regulation and bureaucracy, lack of knowledge, inadequate financing and poor infrastructure networks pose great challenges for trade for many African countries. This situation exists, despite efforts over the past decade or so towards greater integration into global and regional markets.

What African leaders have committed to

Against this background, the African Union (AU) Assembly of African Heads of State and Government, at its 23rd Ordinary Session held at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in June 2014, adopted the Malabo Declaration. In the declaration, they made a particular commitment on boosting intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services. This commitment, highly political by nature, includes a resolve to triple such trade by 2025, and to fast-track the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and transition to a continental Common External Tariff (CET) scheme, among others. The commitment builds upon earlier decisions of the AU Assembly, including the Addis Ababa resolution of January 2012 to establish a Pan-Africa Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the indicative date of 2017. It also endorsed an Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT). The negotiations for the CFTA are currently on-going and will play an important role in boosting intra-African trade in agricultural goods and services. BIAT contains seven major clusters, the implementation of whose programmes and activities is aimed at addressing the key constraints and challenges of intra-African trade and at significantly enhancing the size and benefits of the trade for the attainment of sustainable economic growth and development.

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