Khartoum, 29 July 2021 (ECA)- The ECA Office for North Africacompleted today in Khartoum (Republic of the Sudan) a five-day capacity building workshop on national goods’ access to the African market, jointly organized with the Ministry of Trade and Supply of Sudan and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).
This training aimed to assist Sudan in developing a national action strategy to maximize economic and trade gains from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA) and help formulate national strategies for export promotion. “We hope the officials taking part in this workshop will be able to apply their newly acquired knowledge to the promotion of Sudanese exports as well as the verification of the origins of products imported into the national market”, said Sudanese Minister of Trade and Supply Ali Jiddu Adam Bashir at the opening of the meeting.
According to ECA experts, several key Sudanese sectors could benefit from the AfCFTA, such as mining, leather, agro-industries and textiles. Building on the stakeholder awareness raising workshop held last December, this training aimed to improve Sudanese officials’ capacity to design and implement national trade policies that will help turn these strong points into exports.
“This workshop sought to help Sudan make the most of the AfCFTA, and accelerate structural changes within the national productive sector to improve its competitiveness on the African and global markets”, said Khaled Hussein, Chief of the Sub-Regional Initiatives Section at the ECA Office for North Africa.
“The AfCFTA will profoundly transform African economies as it is a great opportunity to integrate more and diversify further”, said ITFC CEO Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol. The head of the ITFC stressed his organisation’s commitment to support OIC member countries to make the most of the agreement not only to boost trade but to create sustainable jobs, enhance international cooperation and expand local industries, which are all crucial for development, even more so in the context of a global pandemic.
In support of its commitment, ITFC will continue to collaborate with partner institutions and member countries to formulate and support the implementation of AfCFTA national strategies as well as invest in programmes such as the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program and the ITFC-IsDB AfCFTA Initiative to promote intra-African and intra-OIC trade, Sonbol added.
Over the last few days, officials from the Sudanese Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Supply, Customs Directorate; public institution, private sector and civil society representatives and researchers have discussed a number of topics including the latest AfCFTA developments, best practices in export policies and export development strategies, how to promote Sudanese exports to African countries, rules of origins, customs exemptions and African and international organizations and programs that can be used to enhance intra-African trade.
The world’s largest free trade area since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the AfCFTA was officially created in March 2018 to promote intra-African trade and regional integration by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and harmonizing trade rules with the African continent.
According to ECA researchers, the AfCFTA can have a significant impact on Africa’s development by increasing intra African trade, especially in manufactured goods, and therefore by facilitating resilience against global shocks, supporting structural transformation across the region, boosting productive employment and helping reduce poverty. The AfCFTA can therefore be a powerful tool for African countries to accelerate their post-COVID-19 economic rebound, and, in the case of Sudan, help the economy benefit from normalizing relations with the international community, and in particular debt relief from the World Bank and IMF.