Africa: U.S. Economist Tips Entrepreneurs on Continental, Global Trade

An economist in the US government has challenged African women to advocate for inclusion of gender responsive trade mechanisms under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

International economist and advisor at the US Department of Agriculture, Ms Pauline Simmons said in an October 14, virtual meeting that women should hold their governments accountable in implementing AfCFTA commitments.

“How do we make sure discussions on African Continent Free Trade Area agreement has our interests at heart as well,” she wondered in the meeting organised by African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP).

In 2019, the African Union launched the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an agreement that promotes intra-Africa trade.

Trade barriers

So far, 30 African countries have ratified the agreement, making it easier for countries to have multilateral dialogues on removing trade barriers including tariffs, levies, logistical barriers, harmonising quality standards and establishing a continental customs union to streamline trade.

Secretariat of AfCFTA, mandated to oversee realisation of the agreement, has already been constituted with a $5 million institutional support from the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

In an August 20, webinar on Promoting African Trade Partnership: Nigeria – Kenya Agribusiness Export Commonwealth Business Women Network-Kenya, Chairperson, Ms Nana Wanjau, said women entrepreneurs’ challenges in access to finance must be addressed for them to benefit from AfCFTA.