The 5th Meeting of the Continental Task Force (CTF) on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) at the Experts level, commenced today in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was organized by the Department of Trade of the Africa Union Commission in preparation for the commencement of the CFTA negotiations in December 2015. During the next three days, experts from the African Union Commission, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), will consider all the post-launch preparatory issues and consider essential process issues and technical documents that will enable the negotiations to be conducted in an efficient way. The Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) has been invited as a resource person to the meeting.
The CTF is established to coordinate actions between the African Union Commission and the Regional Economic Communities and to ensure that the CFTA negotiations are conducted within the agreed timelines. The expected results of the CTF are to finalize drafts of the various technical documents that will be considered by the First Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area-Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) as well as the negotiations to be concluded later in order to establish the CFTA by the indicative date of 2017.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Treasure Maphanga, Director of the Department of Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, expressed her gratitude to the meeting for the milestone achieved at the African Union June 2015 Summit with regards to the launch of the CFTA negotiations. She recalled the importance and the objectives of the meeting and underscored the progress made on the CFTA process. The Director encouraged the Continental Task Force to work as a team to ensure that the negotiations are effectively concluded by 2017. Mrs. Maphanga urged the participants to share with the meeting, their regional experience and best practices in order to enrich the documents and to further consolidate a strategy on preparing and conducting negotiations at the continental level.
“We need to think outside the box to envisage the way to achieve this mandate and meet the schedule set to us by our Leaders. We are very keen to work with you in order to synchronize and share some of the lessons learned on the Tripartite and other Regional Economic Communities”, she concluded.
The 5th Meeting of the CTF will consider the draft Rules of Procedure for the CFTA Negotiating Forum, the Initial drafts of the modalities for the CFTA tariff negotiations and trade in services and the establishment of Technical Groups in specific areas inter alia.
Source: African Union Commission (AUC)