guided trade program to strengthen the trade agreement with Africa

guided trade program to strengthen the trade agreement with Africa
On July 26, 2022, the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), H.E. Wamkele Mene, introduced the AfCFTA Secretariat Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) during the 9th Meeting of the Council of Ministers. 

The GTI, described as a solution-oriented approach, aims to facilitate trade by connecting businesses and products for export and import among interested state parties. 

In the pilot phase, eight countries, including Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia, have been selected to participate, representing various regions in Africa. 

The initiative seeks to test and establish the foundation for effective trade relationships, focusing on identifying businesses, goods, customs procedures, and logistics practices. 

Countries can join by fulfilling requirements such as deploying the AfCFTA E-Tariff Book, adhering to the Rules of Origin Manual, and publishing tariff rates for Secretariat approval. 

These measures aim to standardize regulations, harmonize standards, and reduce non-tariff trade barriers.

Aligned with AfCFTA's approach to value chain development, products identified for trade in the GTI include ceramics tiles, batteries, tea, coffee, processed meat products, maize starch, sugar, pasta, glucose syrup, dried fruits, and sisal fibers. 

During the pilot phase, the selected countries can access certain markets at preferential rates for these products, with plans to expand the list of traded products to at least 96 in subsequent reviews. 

As part of AfCFTA, up to 90% of liberalized goods are expected to have reduced tariffs by 2030, with a gradual liberalization of the remaining 10%. The GTI aims to enhance the operationalization of AfCFTA, fostering increased intra-African trade and contributing to economic development across the continent. 

In 2023, the GTI places particular emphasis on enhancing trade in services within priority areas such as tourism, transport, business services, communication services, and financial services. 

African countries with potential in these sectors can leverage the GTI for national economic growth. The AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative serves as a trade policy tool to address longstanding trade barriers, promoting economic development and prosperity across the African continent. 

While Kenya and Rwanda lead in harnessing the potential of the GTI, it is crucial for more African nations to follow suit and contribute to the initiative's objectives for continental economic development and integration. Chiamaka Adinnu, a trade fellow at the Ominira Initiative for Economic Advancement, emphasizes the significance of collective efforts by African nations in realizing the potential benefits of the GTI.

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