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Mr Irchad Razaaly, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, has said the EU is a long-standing supporter of economic integration in Africa as an engine for economic growth, jobs, and sustainable development throughout the continent.
“The trade agreement between the EU and its African partners continues to provide the expertise necessary for the African Union members to negotiate and implement the AfCFTA.
Ambassador Razaaly stated this in a recently held sixth conference of the Ghana International Trade and Finance conference in Accra.
The conference brought together stakeholders and pundits of Trade, Finance and Commerce within the continent and beyond.
The Ambassador said stability and prosperity in Africa was a shared interest between Africa and the EU.
This is why we are supporting a closer economic integration between the two continents, Europe and Africa. This is the same idea that we will be developing.
“There is no doubt that the African Continental Free Trade Area is a game changer. This is a crucial addition to the economic and trade architecture. It is likely to increase intra-continental trade, as mentioned by the commissioner, which is around only 17%of total trade in Africa and contribute to the industrialisation process on the continent.”
He said the AfCFTA and the trade arrangement with the EU were mutually reinforcing each other in terms of opportunities that were generated through the EPA implementation and obstacles over comed due to issues such as trade facilitation, market access, rules of origin, from a basis of excessive full implementation of the AfCFTA.
He said they had helped several countries in Africa and regions to create predictable trade and investment conditions.
“The AfCFTA process can take this practical experience into account.
“We believe that the Economic Partnership Agreement and preferential trade with the EU have been playing important roles as catalysts for overall economic developments in the partner countries.”
He said long-term free access into the markets provided under trade arrangements increased incentives to invest in developing competitiveness and capacity building to meet the EU’s standards.
The Ambassador said the new perspectives included change of nature and the relation between the EU, the African Union, and the African continent, from development to a more political for a more strategic relation, agreed by the EU &AU summit in Lisbon.
“There was a summit two months ago in Brussels between the African Union and European leaders in order to advance this strategic and political relation, not only moving forward but building on the economic trade development relations that have been prevailing between the EU and the AU over the years.
“The partnership has five pillars; economy, peace and security, migration, job, growth, and sustainability.
“We have been pushing the Economic Partnership Agreement for two decades now based on the idea that this is the best scheme to open up opportunities to lift the industrial base of the African partners to export more processed, more value, more added value, and more quality content job products in Europe. He said to some extent, the endeavours had succeeded.
“We, as policymakers, are setting and putting together a framework. Currently, we are discussing the AfCFTA on the best way for us to support it. We are making significant expertise and money available for the AfCFTA to adopt regulations that they deem appropriate.”
He said they were setting a framework together with African partners, the AU, and the AfCFTA.