UK backs Africa’s free trade initiative, to provide £35m in support

UK backs Africa’s free trade initiative, to provide £35m in support

The International Trade Secretary of the UK, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has reportedly announced the launch of a new program for supporting the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Under the program, called AfCFTA Support Program, £35 million ($46 million) will be provided by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for trade facilitation and policy support to the AfCFTA Secretariat- Accra, Ghana, as well as to the Member States via regional partners such as Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

AfCFTA, the world’s largest trade area initiative, has the potential to foster the growth of Africa’s economy by increasing industrialization and generating jobs to deliver prosperity throughout the continent.

Barriers to accessing the market will be removed by the AfCFTA trade bloc as a single continental market will be established, which will make it easier and cost-effective for businesses in the UK to export goods and services to the 54 member states.

Secretary Trevelyan stated that the UK, being an independent free-trading nation, strongly supports the AfCFTA, and looks forward to the negotiations and its practical implementation.

She added that the support program signifies that trading can result in positive impacts as well, and will increase trade and investment in the UK as well as in Africa.

Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, stated that the trade bloc is pleased with the support from the UK government, signifying their partnership and cooperation for trade policy and facilitation in Africa.

Mene explained that the trade bloc’s ambition is to see commercial trading of in ‘Made in the AfCFTA’ products across the African continent which will not create economic opportunities and jobs for Africans but will also make trading easier, particularly for women and the youth.

The support program is in line with FCDO's and Department for International Trade's plans for strengthening resilience and partnerships with Africa. Last year during its G7 presidency, the UK had pledged on investing at least $80 billion in the continent with other G7 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs).

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