African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Joint, practical efforts needed for Sudan to make the most of its strong points

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Intra-African trade is crucial for the economic awakening of the African continent

Khartoum, Sudan: The ECA Office for North Africa, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Republic of the Sudan and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) launched on Sunday in Khartoum (Sudan) a Stakeholder dialogue on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“We need to work together and in a very practical way so as to ensure Sudan benefits from the AfCFTA and makes the most of its strong points – its workforce, its agriculture and industry – to increase exports to African countries”, said Khaled Hussein, interim director of the ECA Office for North Africa.

“ITFC is keen to work closely with the partners and be part of this important initiative, the AfCFTA, specially during these challenging times. Intra-African trade is crucial for the economic awakening of the African continent. Sudan with its rich resources and strategic importance will have a huge potential in terms of exports and ultimately, the attainment of greater socio-economic inclusion in the country”, commented Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC.

This training is being held, as per the Ministry of Industry and Trade request, with the goal of raising stakeholders’ awareness on the potential impact of the AfCFTA on the national economy and how best for the Sudan to benefit from this international trade agreement.

Government officials, private sector and civil society representatives as well as academics will be provided with a better understanding of the stakes and challenges related to the AfCFTA. In addition, the training will seek to increase Sudanese policy makers’ capacity to design and implement policies to enhance national exports and strengthen the productive sector.

The AfCFTA is scheduled to come into force on January 1st, 2021, with the ambition of becoming the world’s largest trade bloc and generate a market of more than 1.2 billion consumers.

One year into the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Economic Commission for Africa and its partners consider that the AfCFTA can play a key role in accelerating Africa’s economic recovery and building back on stronger, more resilient bases thanks to the structural transformation of African economies.

While experts identify significant growth potentials for Sudanese sectors and products such as mining, leather, agro-industries and textiles, much remains to be done to restore and modernize the national financial and industry sectors, and increase their competitiveness in the African and global trade markets.

The stakeholder dialogue on the African Continental Free Trade Area is the first of three workshops jointly organized by the ECA Office for North Africa and the Islamic Development Bank International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).

Upcoming events in Sudan in 2021 will include a second training on “Regional Value Chains in North Africa and Opportunities in the Context of the AfCFTA” aiming to improve public and private sector representatives’ knowledge of existing regional value chains in Africa and especially North Africa; and a third workshop on the “African Continent Market Access for Sudanese Products”, which will focus on the potential of promotion of Sudanese exports within the context of the AfCFTA.