Africa-Press – Mauritius. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) National Strategy Response aiming to enhance Mauritius’s preparedness and readiness for intra-African trade and new market and investment opportunities for African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), was launched this morning during a workshop, at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort and Spa in Balaclava.
The Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo; the First Secretary, Head of the Regional Trade Section and Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Republic of Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms Alexia Schmiliver; and the Senior Economist of the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Office, Mr Sebastien Vauzelle; and other personalities were present.
The two-day workshop is an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (African Trade Policy Centre and Sub Regional Office for Southern Africa) with the support of the EU.
The objective is to inform and sensitise the representatives of public and private sector of the opportunities and challenges available for trade especially under the AFCFTA Guided Trade Initiative.
In his keynote address, Minister Ganoo indicated that the agreement establishing the AFCFTA is a potential game changer for African countries adding that since the coming into force of the Agreement on 01 January 2021, much progress has been achieved as regards its ratification and implementation.
He underlined that the AFCFTA is a landmark agreement for Mauritius that can provide significant opportunities for SMEs, including women and youth-led enterprises engaged in cross-border trade, to participate in the development of regional value chains and diversification.
In order to reap the expected economic and social benefits associated with the implementation of the AFCFTA agreement, he stated, Government with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and with funding from the EU, has developed its National AFCFTA Response Strategy.
The strategy, he stressed, elaborates a series of measures to ensure that Mauritius becomes ready to exploit the potential gains associated with the AFCFTA including the setting up of a National Implementation Committee to oversee the implementation of the Agreement.
‘We are leaving no stone unturned to maximise on the benefits of the landmark achievement of the Agenda 2063, The AFRICA WE WANT’, he said.
The AFCFTA, representing a market of 1.3 billion people and combined GDP of about $3.4 trillion, is an opportunity for growth and prosperity for our country, he indicated.
It is important for Mauritius to seize the opportunity and explore new markets on the African continent by strengthening its manufacturing base and diversifying traditional export markets, he added.
The Minister highlighted that the AFCFTA agreement should be implemented through an inclusive approach that creates opportunities for women, youth and SMEs to participate in formal economic spheres.
SMEs are the backbone and economic drivers of Mauritius, he said, adding that the agreement will further boost intra-African production, intra-African consumption, and intra-African trade and investment.
He rejoiced that Mauritius being part of the pilot phase of the Guided Trade Initiative together with Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt, and Ghana, has been able to export its first consignment under the agreement. He thus expressed appreciation to the UNECA and the EU for their assistance to Mauritius for the implementation of the AFCFTA.
Ms Schmiliver, for her part, emphasised that the EU is thrilled about the continuous momentum of getting the AFCFTA off the ground as it is considered to be a real and effective game changer that will help Africa’s economic transformation.
She commended Mauritius for becoming one of the first countries of the region to ratify the AFCFTA agreement back in 2019 and reiterated EU’s support to the integration process of the African continent as a Free Trade Area.
As for Mr Vauzelle, he highlighted that Mauritius will thrive with the full implementation of the AFCFTA adding that it will lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade and leverage more business opportunities.
He spoke of the need to encourage more transparency, efficiency and resilience as well as to overcome challenges relating to logistics and connectivity.