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Somalia embraces the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), validates its national strategy

Somalia embraces the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), validates its national strategy

Zawya | 24th November 2023

By ECA, Africa press release.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Somalia, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), convened a validation meeting of its African Continental Free Trade Area national implementation strategy on 15 November 2023 in Mogadishu.

The purpose of the meeting was to solicit feedback and inputs from various stakeholders on the draft document that articulates Somalia’s vision and actions for harnessing the potential of AfCFTA. Participants came from government, the private sector, academia, civil society and the national parliament. The meeting was supported by ECA through its Office for Eastern Africa and the African Trade Policy Centre which provided technical assistance to Somalia in developing the strategy.

Mr Mohamed Saney Dalmar, Director General of the Somalia Ministry of Commerce and Industry, opened the workshop and highlighted the importance of the AfCFTA for the country’s economic development and integration. He thanked ECA for its support and encouraged the participants to actively engage in the implementation phase of the AfCFTA strategy.

“This validation workshop is a testament to our collective commitment to fostering economic growth and regional collaboration. ” said Mr Dalmar. He further highlighted that the the private sector plays a pivotal role in this transformative process, acting as a catalyst for growth by driving innovation, creating job opportunities, and facilitating the integration of Somali businesses into the broader African market.

The AfCFTA Agreement has received the approval of the Somalia Cabinet and is now awaiting ratification by Parliament. Members of the parliament who attended the meeting said that the Agreement will likely be ratified in the next few months.

Speaking at the event, Mr Melaku Desta, the coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre recalled ECA’s role in assisting the member states in preparing and implementing their national strategies. He praised Somalia for completing its national strategy and urged the stakeholders to provide comments and suggestions to enhance its quality and relevance.

“The support we are providing to our member states in the development of national AfCFTA Implementation Strategies is an important part of our work in this area” Said Mr Desta. “with ECA support 31 African countries and two regional economic communities have completed, validated and launched their national or regional AfCFTA Implementation Strategies, while around ten others are at different stages in the process of developing their strategies”, he added.

Andrew Mold, Senior Economist at ECA also stressed the advantages of implementing the Free Movement Protocol, which seeks to facilitate the free flow of people across Africa in order to better facilitate cross-border trade and investment. He also highlighted the economic imperatives of the AfCFTA and the benefits deriving from its implementation.

At the meeting, the main elements of the strategy such as the key opportunities and challenges for Somalia in implementing the agreement were discussed, as well as priority sectors and products for export diversification and value addition. The workshop participants engaged in a fruitful and interactive dialogue and they discussed the alignment of the strategy with the existing national development frameworks and policies, such as the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Somalia Economic Recovery Plan (SERP).

In a landmark show of collaboration, Somalia’s private sector actively participated in the AfCFTA validation meeting, underlining its commitment to the economic advancement of the country. The diverse representation and engagement of private enterprises during the meeting signified a collective dedication to harnessing the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA for mutual prosperity."

The AfCFTA is a landmark agreement among African Union member states that was launched on 1 January 2021. It aims to create a single market for goods and services and thus increase intra-African trade by eliminating import duties and non-tariff barriers.

 source: Zawya