The European Union has called for expansion in the volume of intra-Africa trade, if the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are to be realised.
The Head of Cooperation, European Union, Mr Thomas Huyghebaert, made the call during a media training on “Global Trade” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Huyghebaert said despite the heartwarming development seeing 27 African countries ratifying the AfCFTA agreement, more needed to be done on intra-Africa trade.
He explained that the new alliance between the EU and AU was aimed at increased investment in Africa.
According to him, increased investment in the continent is needed, beyond what is currently obtainable.
Huyghebaert also stressed the need for increased role of the private sector.
“We also must reinforce our joint efforts, especially in investing in Africa’s young people. The continent has the largest population of youths.
“Coincidentally, as we began this training you would notice young Ethiopians here set to benefit from the fair on education in Europe.
“We also have this programme where we already have 20,000 African students going every year to Europe.
“We are intending to increase the number further, as this is about skill sharing and building the economy,” he explained.
He said the latest AU-EU partnership was informed by the need to understudy how continental single trade works.
“The African Union is coming closer to us, because of the experience we have had over the last 70 years in building the EU single market.
“And so, we are here, really as peers and sharing experiences.
“What has been achieved so far was only the easy bit, the task is now in negotiating the terms of trading, and then what happens afterwards.
“There are lots of other things, including how do we overcome the barriers from the customs, amongst other things.
“We are here as a long term partner in this transformation, and eventually as a future step, to have the continent to continent free trade between Africa and Europe.
“The first step, however, is to integrate more intra-Africa trade and enhance trade between.
“It is then that African countries would be in a better position to transform their production capacities to meet global standard and export to the European market,” Huyghebaert added.
He said journalists would play crucial roles in spreading the advantages of AfCFTA before the actual implementation of the agreement.
The two- day training which is holding in conjunction with World Export Development Forum (WEDF) highlights the AfCFTA agreement; trade between Africa and Europe; trade data for reporting; and trade-led development.
The training programme was jointly organised by the International Trade Centre, the AU, EU and the Enhanced Integrated Framework.