Regional integration key for devt, trade facilitation of Nigeria, others

Gyan Chandra Acharya

Gyan Chandra Acharya

To facilitate trade and economic development among African countries, the United Nations has emphasised the need for regional integration and cooperation among landlocked countries to aid improved connectivity, enhanced competitiveness and trading capacity, market expansion and upgrading of value chains.

According to the United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Gyan Chandra Acharya who is also the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (LLDCs), it is highly important for the continent to develop a legal framework for improved transit transport and trade facilitation, noting that this would greatly reduce high trade costs.

He said addressing the trade-related challenges of the LLDCs requires a multi-dimensional approach from building physical infrastructure to reducing the trade costs; addressing other supply-side constraints in order to increase the LLDCs’ trade competitiveness; improving the market access for their products; and enhancing structural transformation in order to help diversify their product and markets.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Economic Commission for Africa’s inaugural African Development Week, titled: “Enhancing Africa’s trade potential: The key role of trade and transport facilitation legal instruments”, Acharya said: “while the African continent has made very commendable strides in implementing regional and sub-regional agreements, it is equally important to implement the international agreements”.

Some of the key legal instruments that offer legal and regulatory framework to facilitate transit transport and trade facilitation at international level include the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the Revised Kyoto Customs Convention and the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods.

“Full implementation of the legal instruments can generate substantial revenue for governments and simultaneously create the conditions to advance national and regional efforts toward achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and aspirations of the Agenda 2063,” said Acharya.

Indeed, Africa is home to half of the 32 landlocked developing countries found globally, even though the LLDCs are hugely constrained by their geography, including remoteness from markets and lack of direct territorial access to the sea ports resulting in their inability to fully harness their full potential.

“They therefore require very strong partnerships with neighbouring countries and other countries globally to assist with special measures and support that could assist them to end their marginalization in the international trading system and promote inclusive and sustainable development,” the Under Secretary General said.

He said his office will work with all Member States to support the achievement of a legal framework conducive to deepened regional integration, facilitation of trade and improved trade competitiveness of African countries, in particular the LLDCs in international trade.

This, according to him, can help the land locked countries achieve a sustainable and inclusive economic growth that delivers decent jobs, accelerates poverty reduction and ensures no-one is left behind in the global development process.

Commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union Commission, Ms. Fatima Haram Acyl, urged member states to ratify the Trade and Transport Facilitation Agreement.

She said sub-Saharan Africa lags significantly behind other regions in facilitating trade hence ambitious customs reforms and trade facilitation programmes currently in the works on the continent.

“Trade facilitation is an African trade priority at the continental, regional and national level,” she told high level participants in the meeting.

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