Ngozi, Burundi, 07 December 2021 (ECA) – An Experts’ meeting to validate Burundi’s implementation strategy for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) started this Tuesday in Ngozi, Burundi. The meeting will discuss a range of sectors that could help the country benefit from the agreement.
The two days-meeting is organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with Burundi’s Ministry of Trade, transport, Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. About 60 experts that including government officials, Burundians traders and economists are participating in the meeting.
The AfCFTA, which officially came to effect on 1st January 2021 is the agreement that seeks to create a vast free market where countries are required to gradually remove tariffs from 97% of goods, and liberalise some selected service sectors allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
Speaking on behalf of ECA in Eastern Africa, Ms Mama Keita recalled that liberalization of trade under AfCFTA will harbour great benefits for Burundi and Africa at large. “Everyone will gain, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)” she said.
Ms Keita stressed that AfCFTA could double Eastern African exports to the rest of the continent in sectors like textiles and clothing, and expand significantly light manufacturing and agro-processing sectors.
A previous study by ECA and Trademark East Africa forecasts that the trade treaty will lead to significant diversification of East African economies, a US$ 1.1 billion boost in inter-regional trade, creating more than 2 million jobs.
Burundian Minister of Trade Trade, transport, Industry and Tourism, Ms Marie Chantal Nijimbere highlighted how the private sector has the key role to play to make the AfCFTA a success. She said that Burundi appreciates the fact that the validated AfCFTA National strategy comes with a well-thought action plan and strategic interventions and pledged dedicated efforts towards its effective implementation. She further thanked ECA, the African Union and the European Union for supporting the Burundian government in the formulation of the strategy and called for support for the next steps. “
The AfCFTA validation Meeting is one of the key actions part of the European Union-funded project. The EU supports ECA in its efforts to advocate for the AfCFTA ratification and to develop and operationalize national strategies for effective implementation and monitoring of the agreement.
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