The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has announced the establishment of the National Technical Working Group (NATWG) on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA).
The pronouncement was made at the official opening of a two-day workshop aimed at creating the awareness and stimulating public and private sector interest in the ratification of AFCFTA.
The event which took place on February 9, 2021, brought together government ministries and agencies as well as other stakeholders in Monrovia and it is expected to end on Wednesday, February 10,2021.
Speaking at the event, Assistant Minister of Commerce, Wilfred Bangura, told the gathering that the primary objective of the National Strategy was to interlock the purpose of the AFCFTA with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD), which is the national development strategy of Liberia.
Minister Bangura, who proxied for Minister Mawine G. Diggs at the occasion, said this endeavor is in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission to secure technical assistance from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to develop a national strategy for the AFCFTA.
According to him, the membership of the NATWG will be drawn from trade related Government Ministries and agencies, private sectors and appropriate civil society organizations.
He explained that the term of reference will also be allocated in the AFCFTA national strategy and its membership will be required to participate in the technical works to develop the AFCFTA national strategy.
He, tt the same time, noted that the relevant institutions will also be written after the workshop. “We hope to have two major outcomes as a result of this workshop,” he said.
He stressed that it was important to note that sufficient interest and support for the demonstration of the AFCFTA agreement, especially on the part of the lawmakers was cardinal to its achievement.
He also stressed the need to develop a matrix of request for Trade-in-Service Sub-sectors of interest to the Liberian private sector actors for submission to the ECOWAS Commission as part of the ongoing Trade in Service Negotiation.
In January 2012, the continental body was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with the aim of creating a single African market for goods and services facilitated by the free movement of persons and capital to deepen the economic integration of the African continent thereby paving the way to accelerate the establishment of a continental customs union.
He further said like most other Africa countries, Liberia signed the AFCFTA in March 2018, but the agreement came into force on May 20, 2019 after 24 countries deposited their instruments of ratification with the Africa Union Commission.
The Minster also indicated that Trading in the good component of the agreement began as of January 1st of this year, but Liberia has yet to ratify the agreement.
He, however, disclosed that negotiations are still ongoing under the AFCFTA protocol for trade in services.
Meanwhile, Margibi County Senator elect, Emanuel J. Nuquay, in brief remarks pledged the Senate’s commitment to supporting the ministry to ensure that Liberia ratifies the AFCFTA agreement.
Senator Nuquay also stressed the importance of cordial working relationship to achieve this agenda, adding that MoCI cannot do it alone and the 54th National Legislature is key in the process.
Access to the wider African market of around 1.3 billion consumers, and lower or no import duties on exports to designated importing African countries are some benefits to expect.
Other benefits include innovation and production of better quality products due to specialization and diversification, and value for money due to increased supply of variety of goods on the Liberian market.