The United Kingdom (UK) has expressed commitment to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area initiative.
The International Trade Secretary, UK, Anne-Marie Trevelyan who announced the initiative said the programme (of up to £35m support to AfCFTA) is expected to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, create jobs, and provide new commercial opportunities for businesses across Africa and the UK.
Trevelyan revealed this as the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, visits London to discuss how the UK can continue its work as a strategic partner to the trading bloc.
“Through the AfCFTA Support Programme, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will provide up to £35m to provide trade facilitation and trade policy support to the AfCFTA Secretariat and Member States through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and other regional partners,” Trevelyan said.
As the world’s largest free trade area, the AfCFTA has the potential to boost Africa’s economic growth by driving industrialisation, generating jobs and delivering prosperity across the continent.
For UK businesses, the trade bloc will remove market access barriers by creating a single continental market, making it easier and more cost-effective for UK businesses to export goods and services across the 54 AfCFTA member states.
Trevelyan said: “We’re keen to see continued momentum on outstanding negotiations, and on practical implementation of the agreement on the ground.
“This new aid programme shows that trade is a force for good, and will lead to increased trade, investment, and prosperity for both Africa and the UK.”
Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene said: “We are pleased to receive this support from the Government of the UK, as it ushers us into a partnership for strengthening cooperation related to customs and trade facilitation and trade policy across the African continent.
“In the last five years or so, we have seen the re-engineering of our Regional Economic Communities, to take into consideration the aspirations that are embedded in the AfCFTA instruments. We have also witnessed during this period the enthusiasm and the energy of our private sector to rise to the occasion and begin to exploit what is provided for in the Agreement.
“Our ambition now is to see commercially meaningful trading in ‘Made in the AfCFTA’ products taking place, across the length and breadth of our continent, to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africans, especially women and the youth. We want to make trade easier for the Africans, in particular our women and young Africans who trade across our borders.
“This new AfCFTA support programme is, therefore, timely to facilitate the implementation of the AfCFTA, through supporting national implementation committees and regional economic communities.” Mene said.
Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said: “Closer integration between African economies boosts growth across the continent, creates opportunities and helps lift people out of poverty.
“The UK is a committed partner in this mission. This UK funding will promote long-term partnerships between African countries and support a more prosperous, greener continent.
“I am delighted to be supporting the AfCFTA Secretariat and its Member states to deliver freer and fairer trade systems in Africa.”