ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) --
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has
called for bold actions toward realizing the African Continental
Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The call was made at
the ongoing 51st session of the Conference of African
Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in the
Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The theme of the May
11-15 gathering is: “African Continental Free Trade Area:
Creating fiscal space for jobs and economic diversification.”
Participants at the
conference and side events will discuss the potential for AfCFTA
as a powerful tool to drive industrialization, economic
diversification and overall development on the African
The five-day event
aims to advance the ambitious initiative to form a regional
common market that could boost intra-African trade to 52 percent
by 2022, up from the current level of only 16 percent,
Side events on
Sunday covered such topics as sustainable development,
agriculture and Africa’s transformation; financing
infrastructure; education and employment; an integrated strategy
for the Sahel; and priorities for tackling illicit financial
flows in Africa.
conference has come after the signing of the AfCFTA by 44 of the
African Union’s 55 member states earlier this year.
Kenya and Ghana last
Thursday handed over to the African Union (AU) the documents
ratifying the AfCFTA, becoming the first two countries to do so.
A minimum of 22
countries are needed for the AfCFTA to come into force.
executive secretary of the ECA, urged focus on how to
operationalize the AfCFTA agreement in a manner that realizes
its potential to the benefit of the average African.
She underlined the
need to create the “fiscal space” to foster public and private
investment, while ensuring economic diversification with the
view to creating jobs.
concerns that the AfCFTA may cause losses in tariff revenues,
leading to “holes” in national budgets.
However, she said,
the impact would be “small and gradual.”
revenue losses may be outweighed by the additional revenues from
growth to be generated by AfCFTA,” Songwe said.
are also urged to take a broader review of macroeconomic
policies, especially fiscal measures, to ensure they are “fit
for purpose” to make the most of the AfCFTA.
“We need to improve
our levels of fiscal space. This includes boosting tax revenues,
improving the efficiency of public expenditure management,
tackling illicit financial flows and making use of private
finance for public projects,” she said.