By Clarisse Wiydorven
Under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UNECA), the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS has organized a three-day regional workshop on the preparation of lists of Central Africa’s specific commitments for the liberalization of trade in services, elaborating on the five priority sectors of the African continental free trade agreement. The five priorities of the continental free trade area include; financial services, transport, telecommunications / ICTs, professional services and tourism.
Holding at Sawa hotel, Douala, Littoral Region of Cameroon, the workshop to run from December 3 to 5, 2019 seeks to promote the appropriation by the ECCAS Member States of the techniques and tools for negotiation on trade in services within the framework of the AfCFTA, accompany ECCAS Member States in the definition of convergent positions which would be reflected in the creation of a free-trade area for services in Africa and lastly, build capacity and technically support ECCAS Member States to develop specific lists of commitments that are consistent with relevant regulatory frameworks.
In remarks during the opening session of the workshop, Sub-‐Regional director of UNECA office for central Africa, Antonio Pedro, reiterated the need to boost trade among ECCAS member states, noting that intra African trade in the central African region is still very timid and needs to be boosted.
On her part, deputy secretary general in charge of physical economic and monetary integration, Mfoula Marie Therese Chantale, underlined the need to foster not only regional integration but also continental integration to boost intra-African trade. It is worth noting that Cameroon has adopted the first five-year strategy on which to anchor its useful contribution in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA which is expected to go operational in July 2020, advocates for free movement of goods and services across African nations and will represent the world largest trade zone. If fully materialized, it will proved a market of 1.2 billion people and over 2.5 trillion dollars continental Gross Domestic Product.