The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is to assist member states to develop their national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation strategy with an environmental bias in anticipation of challenges of COVID-19 and climate change.
The assistance will be underpinned by an assessment of the environmental impacts that could result from increased economic and trade activities under the AfCFTA in order to devise mitigation actions, the Coordinator of the ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), David Luke, said.
Speaking at the inception meeting of a complementary research project the Centre is starting together with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), he said that the joint research would determine how climate change-related risks could alter comparative advantages and trade patterns or affect infrastructure, and identify adverse effects on particular sectors such as agriculture and tourism.
The research, with a focus on the role of the AfCFTA in promoting resilient recovery in Africa, is expected to guide how the African Union’s Green Recovery Action Plan (GRAP) can be better aligned with AfCFTA negotiations and implementation to put African a more sustainable and resilient economic recovery path, he said.
“The plan is to present the research at the World Trade Organization (WTO) public forum in September and on the sidelines of COP26 in November, where we will review and discuss how the findings and recommendations can be taken forward,” said Luke.
In his own remarks, Maximiliano Mendez-Parra of ODI said the institution had been working closely with African countries in implementing the trading bloc’s agreement and contributing to trade and investment development efforts as well as supporting them in the area of research.
According to John Asafu-Adjaye of ACET, the project would help to strengthen collaboration to support Africa’s economic recovery by building on existing work and complementing various continental initiatives.
With Algeria that submitted its instrument of ratification of the AfCFTA agreement to the AU today in Addis Ababa, 37 member states or two-thirds of the members have now ratified the agreement.
The AfCFTA is set to create the largest free trade area in the world with a market of more than 12 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.