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ECA launches online platform to boost intra African trade

The African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said it has launched an online platform to tackle Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) hampering Intra Africa trade.

In a statement, ECA said the online platform would allows African businessmen and women to report, monitor and get support to resolve barriers they encounter in the course of their trading activities.

“The mechanism will enable victims to report to the relevant authorities in their country who will then seek resolution with the concerned officials in the other country involved in the dispute. A complainant first has to login on the website and then enters their protest.

“Under the AfCFTA agreement, there are designated National Focal Points and National Monitoring Committees that are obliged to try and resolve such NTBs,” the statement sated.

According to ECA, which is partnering with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD to promote the online platform, African countries could gain $20 billion each year by removing these barriers.

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For the system to work successfully, the onus is on traders to own it, said Christian Knebel of UNCTAD. “If you don’t report any NTB, then nobody will be able to resolve the barrier,” said Knebel.

Through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), the ECA, with financial support from the European Union, is assisting member-states of the AfCFTA to develop national strategies for the implementation of the AfCFTA

The AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development. It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction.

The AfCFTA agreement entered into force on May 30, 2019 after the treaty was ratified by 22 countries — the minimum number required under the treaty — out of the 54 that agreed to be members of the bloc. As of today, 34 member-states have submitted their instrument of ratification of the agreement with the AUC.
Eritrea is the only country that has yet to make any commitment to the continental body.

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