UNCTAD partners with the African Development Bank with to provide technical assistance and capacity-building support to five countries across the region
UNCTAD has rolled out a new project to facilitate regional trade in central Africa.
Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi launched the project in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 3 March.
Through the project, UNCTAD will offer technical expertise on the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to five countries that are members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“Central Africa is facing significant trade facilitation challenges that hamper the region’s economic development,” Dr. Kituyi said. “We want to help cut red tape at borders to facilitate cross-border transactions, foster harmonious regional economic integration and prepare the ECCAS countries for gainful participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
Five central African countries – Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea – will benefit from UNCTAD’s empowerment programme for national trade facilitation committees (NTFCs).
The project will help these countries’ committees implement, in a coordinated manner, trade facilitation reforms, including the provisions of the WTO agreement.
It will cover technical aspects of trade facilitation and allow for better planning of reforms, with national trade facilitation roadmaps for all countries.
Its training-of-trainers component will promote knowledge transfer to future new members of NTFCs to ensure sustainability.
Each country will receive assistance to either establish an NTFC or to strengthen its existing committee with formal legal backing and appropriate terms of reference.
Beneficiary countries will also receive advice on complying with short obligations under the TFA, including the submission of transparency notifications.
Empowerment for stronger economies
“We’re confident that the project will empower NTFCs across central African to better coordinate national and regional trade facilitation initiatives to overcome cross-border hurdles and build stronger economies,” said Njikam Théodore, high representative of the secretary-general of ECCAS to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The project resulted from a new partnership between UNCTAD, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the ECCAS, aimed at strengthening NTFCs and supporting the implementation of trade facilitation reforms in central African countries.
The project’s activities will run up to October 2021 with a budget of US$458,000, thanks to financial support from the AfDB.
UNCTAD will build on its previous experience in successfully implementing a national trade facilitation project in central Africa, in Cameroun, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, and running regional trade facilitation projects in eastern Africa.