The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed an agreement to promote trade among member states within the continent.
The agreement, signed in New York, aims at directing the continent’s post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery programme and provide an opportunity for women and youth, is in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 common vision for the continent.
Mr. Wamkele Mene, the AfCFTA Secretary-General said the agreement sought to drive the momentum in women and youth to make them leading beneficiaries of the AfCFTA.
He added that AfCFTA was not just a trade liberalising instrument but an enabler of inclusive growth and sustainable development on the continent.
On her part, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, said the UNDP would support AfCFTA to accelerate development on the continent to sustain growth after the implementation of the COVID-19 recovery programme.
“If we succeed, we will have contributed to creating stronger and more resilient inclusive and green economies in Africa characterized by rising incomes, jobs, more balanced trade and better returns from Africa’s natural resources,” she added.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by AfCFTA and UNPD.
“The partnership will leverage UNDP’s presence in all African countries, working in close collaboration with other UN entities and includes direct support to the AfCFTA Secretariat through a financial grant of US$3 million. This will enhance AfCFTA Secretariat advocacy among policymakers, business, civil society, academia, youth and other stakeholders,” it added.
“Trade is recognised as a means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 1963. The new collaboration aims to address inequalities, promote value addition and create jobs. As Africa trades more with itself, it will be essential to target critical hurdles faced in exporting within Africa such as SME export competitiveness; rules of origin; technical and product safety standards,” it said.
According to the statement, AfCFTA is the world’s largest free-trade area with a market of 1.2 billion people and the eighth economic bloc.
The agreement was sealed by H.E. Mr. Wamkele Mene, accompanied by Ambassador Fatima Mohammed Kyari, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations and by Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa.
Juliet Etefe, ISD