The third meeting of African Ministers of Trade took place from 15 to 16 June 2017 in the Palais des Congres hall under the presidency Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger, also in charge of the installation of the Continental Free Trade Area (ZLEC).
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss options for the implementation of the ZLEC and to endorse the documents to enable African trade ministers to express their views on the achievement of options for the free trade area on tariff liberalization and negotiations on trade in services; Ongoing work on the draft protocol, annexes and appendices to the Continental Free Trade Area (ZLEC), as well as the reports of the 2nd meeting of the ZLEC Technical Working Groups (TWGs).
The meeting also focused on the preparation of the 3rd meeting of African trade ministers from the 54 countries. This third meeting of Niamey was attended by 17 ministers in charge of trade.
The establishment of the continental free trade area should have substantial long-term benefits and benefits in many areas lost in the modeling exercises, including areas related to the facilitation of trade in security products, strengthening the stability of fragile countries, creating better business access to inputs and intermediate goods, and reducing the cost of innovation.
The Commissioner of the African Union in charge of Trade and Industry, Ambassador Albert Muchanga, highlighted the key results expected from the ministerial meeting, which he said would focus on tariff negotiation modalities of the ZLEC and the modalities of trade in services of the ZLEC.
The President of the Republic of Niger, reiterated his commitment to carry out diligently the heavy task entrusted to him by the current President of the African Union, Professor Alpha Condé, in the name of his peers. He pledged to monitor closely the progress of ministers in the development of the text of the protocol establishing the Continental Free Trade Area by December 2017, The Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
Negotiations for the establishment of a continental free trade area began in February 2016 following the establishment of the continental free trade zone (FN-ZLEC) negotiating forum.
Mahamadou Issoufou stated that the majority of the member states of the African Union are underdeveloped countries. It is for this reason that we must take a good approach in the design of simple, practical and credible rules that will not only stimulate intra-African trade but also take into account the economic status of member states.
Kadiatou Thierno Diallo/Niamey