Enhanced intra-African trade will provide many opportunities within the continent to promote specialisation among African countries, according to the Africa Trade Policy centre(ATPC).
Intra-Africa trade will also help to develop regional value chains to enhance diversification and competitiveness, consolidate and integrate production infrastructure and processes across borders to achieve economies of scale,
ATPC has pulled together policy makers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for annual Africa Trade Forum which started on Monday this week.
Programme management officer for ATCP Jane Karonga said intra-Africa trade will be the main talking point at the meeting because it is vital if countries such as Malawi are to develop.
She said it is generally acknowledged that intra-African trade is significantly weak compared to trade within other regions.
â€œOn average over the past decade, trade among African nations is estimated at about 10 â€“ 12 percent whereas 40 percent of North American trade is with other North American countries, and 63 percent of trade by countries in Western Europe is with other Western European nations,â€ said Karonga.
ATPC hopes policymakers will move with speed to support the establishment of the continental free trade area (FTA).
â€œAfrican countries need to aggressively pursue comprehensive regional trade policies as a collective development and transformation strategy,â€ said Karonga.Â
From a continental strategic standpoint, stronger and deeper regional integration in Africa will not only help to promote sustainable economic growth and development, but will also enhance Africaâ€™s effective participation in the global economy and make it less vulnerable to external shocks,â€ she said.
Karonga emphasised that intra-African trade would promote exports to regional markets, build experience to enter global markets and provide a framework for African countries to cooperate in developing common services for finance, transport and communications.
The forum run under the theme â€œBoosting Intra-African Trade and Establishing the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will be held from 24th September and ends on 26th.