UNCTAD and AfCFTA Secretariat strengthen ties to boost regional integration and trade in Africa

10 October 2022

They will scale up partnerships to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of African countries.


© Rainer Lesniewski/Shutterstock | Trucks carrying goods at the border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Livingstone, Zambia.

UNCTAD and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost their joint efforts to promote regional integration and inclusive growth in Africa.

The heightened partnership will enable UNCTAD to work closely with the AfCFTA Secretariat, African member states, regional economic communities, the business community and strategic development partners to foster regional economic integration and growth in Africa.

Joint work under the agreement aims to help African countries build the productive capacities they need to integrate regionally and participate in world trade more equitably. 

“Implementation of the AfCFTA is an unprecedented opportunity for African countries to come together as a region and enhance their participation in the global economy. It is a game-changing chance for them to expand trade and diversify their economies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. 

“By joining forces with the AfCFTA Secretariat, the wealth of UNCTAD’s expertise on trade and development in Africa can help the continent make progress on its ambitious development agenda,” Ms. Grynspan added.

Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, said: “Increased cooperation is at the core of the AfCFTA. Together, the Secretariat and UNCTAD can multiply the impact of support and help African countries achieve their integration goals.”

AfCFTA’s transformative potential

UNCTAD’s research and ongoing work has illustrated the transformative potential of the AfCFTA.

The two organizations will draw on the depth and breadth of their experiences and prioritize five key areas.

These include enhancing cooperation on trade in goods, addressing non-tariff measures and non-tariff barriers and improving trade facilitation and customs cooperation across Africa.

They will also work together to boost trade in services and investment on the continent, bolster the protection of intellectual property rights and support the second phase of AfCFTA protocol negotiations on investment, intellectual property rights, competition policy and digital trade.

In addition, they will deliver joint capacity-building workshops and training, conduct research and draft technical studies, hold policy dialogues, exchange data and statistics, monitor and evaluate AfCFTA implementation, among other activities.