President Akufo-Addo interacting with President Paul Kagame
President Akufo-Addo interacting with President Paul Kagame

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Monday urged African countries to carefully develop country business index to effectively realize the promises made under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

The call was made by Adeyinka Adeyemi, Senior Advisor at the ECA, as he emphasized that the AfCFTA country business index would provide an assessment of the challenges and opportunities of businesses and trading across the African continent.

“The index is an instrument that provides business perceptions of the country-specific challenges in their own country, and how the country challenges impact on firms’ ability to trade across borders in Africa,” Adeyemi said.

According to the ECA, the country business index concerning the continental free trade pact would mainly provide an assessment of the extent to which businesses in Africa find trading across borders in Africa challenging, and to identify the main barriers to trade.

The index “will allow for a ranking of data on trade experience across countries and provide an evaluation of the developmental impact of the AfCFTA,” it was noted.

The AfCFTA Country Business Index is also said to be part of a comprehensive project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA.

Amid the African continent awaiting the start of AfCFTA implementation, which is slated for July 2020, the Red Sea nation Eritrea is currently the only AfCFTA non-signatory African country, as the continental free trade deal has been so far signed by 54 of the total 55 AU member countries.

The latest call to develop country business index so as to fully harness the AfCFTA came as pan-African trade experts set to meet at the UN Conference Centre in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa this week to evaluate AfCFTA’s country business index, according to the ECA.

The experts drawn across the continent, during the two-day meeting, are expected to validate the methodology to produce the AfCFTA Country Business Index, in which views are said to be “collected through a survey administered through regional and local chambers of commerce and industry.”

The AfCFTA, which entered into force on May 30 this year having been ratified by the required 22 African Union member countries, “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 U.S. dollars economic bloc and usher in a new era of development,” the ECA said on Monday.

The continental free trade deal, which is so far signed by 54 African countries of which 29 countries have ratified the AfCFTA, has “the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction,” according to the ECA.

The ECA has been working with its partners including the AU Commission, the International Trade Centre, the UN Conference on Trade and Development and a selection of independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies. Enditem

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