PAFTRAC of­fers win­dow to Africa

Business a.m. - - FRONT PAGE - Ben Egu­zozie, with wire copy

LAST WEEK, AFRICA’S lead­ing pri­vate sec­tor in­sti­tu­tions and cor­po­rates meeting in Ad­dis Ababa, the Ethiopian cap­i­tal, es­tab­lished a Pan-African Pri­vate Sec­tor Trade and In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee (PAFTRAC) to serve as an ad­vo­cacy plat­form to sup­port

LAST WEEK, AFRICA’S lead­ing pri­vate sec­tor in­sti­tu­tions and cor­po­rates meeting in Ad­dis Ababa, the Ethiopian cap­i­tal, es­tab­lished a Pan-African Pri­vate Sec­tor Trade and In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee (PAFTRAC) to serve as an ad­vo­cacy plat­form to sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the African Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and en­hance African pri­vate sec­tor par­tic­i­pa­tion in trade and in­vest­ment pol­icy for­mu­la­tion, in­clud­ing trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

They said the PAFTRAC would en­hance African pri­vate sec­tor par­tic­i­pa­tion and gal­va­nize the views of the African pri­vate sec­tor, main­stream­ing them into trade and in­vest­ment pol­icy mak­ing. And that the body, while pro­vid­ing a frame­work for ef­fec­tive pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ship in the pro­mo­tion of African trade, will en­hance the in­te­gra­tion of Africa into the global econ­omy, and con­trib­ute to the trans­for­ma­tion of African economies, in line with the African Union’s “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

The African Ex­port-Im­port Bank (Afrex­im­bank) and the African Union Com­mis­sion (AUC) co-hosted the meeting.

Pa­trick Utomi, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal econ­omy, man­age­ment ex­pert and founder of the Cen­tre for Value in Lead­er­ship (CVL), Nige­ria, was elected as PAFTRAC’s first chair­per­son for a two-year term. Vice-chair­per­sons from dif­fer­ent re­gions of the con­ti­nent would sup­port him (Utomi).

Many Nige­rian cor­po­rates in­ter­est­ingly par­tic­i­pated at the meeting.

Al­bert Muchanga, African Union com­mis­sioner for trade and in­dus­try, and Bene­dict Oramah, a pro­fes­sor and pres­i­dent and chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors of Afrex­im­bank co-chaired the meeting.

Muchanga said PAFTRAC was an im­por­tant step­ping-stone to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of the African Busi­ness Coun­cil (ABC) pro­vided for un­der the AfCFTA frame­work.

Oramah said it was im­per­a­tive for the African pri­vate sec­tor to play a more ac­tive role in shap­ing the pa­ram­e­ters of trade and in­vest­ment pol­icy at the na­tional, re­gional and con­ti­nen­tal lev­els for its own ben­e­fit, and to achieve the trans­for­ma­tion of African economies.

A group of lead­ers com­pris­ing chief ex­ec­u­tives of lead­ing African busi­nesses and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of re­gional African busi­ness coun­cils and cham­bers of com­merce would drive the PAFTRAC. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of African pol­icy and re­search in­sti­tu­tions will also be in­cluded.

What does this then hold for Nige­rian cor­po­rate in­sti­tu­tions, and how can they play deep in the body for the ben­e­fit of Nige­ria’s econ­omy? Fri­day Udoh, a doc­tor­ate de­gree holder and co­or­di­na­tor, South-South zone, In­sti­tute of Char­tered Econ­o­mists of Nige­ria (ICEN) said they (the Nige­rian cor­po­rate in­sti­tu­tions) should care­fully queue into the PAFRAC.

“They should also em­ploy best prac­tices in en­sur­ing that Nige­ria’s econ­omy, which badly needs for­eign in­vest­ment, gains from their par­tic­i­pa­tion,” Udoh told busi­ness a.m. in an in­ter­view.

He also coun­selled that many Nige­rian pri­vate sec­tor op­er­a­tors, es­pe­cially those in the or­gan­ised pri­vate sec­tor – the cham­bers of com­merce, should open up their par­tic­i­pa­tion in PAFTRAC, since its mem­bers are com­mit­ted to mo­bil­is­ing wider pri­vate sec­tor sup­port for the ini­tia­tive.

Mean­while, PAFTRAC mem­bers adopted a work pro­gramme for the pe­riod 2019-2021, which will focus on trade fi­nance; trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion; non-tar­iff mea­sures; and Africa’s ex­ter­nal trade and in­vest­ment re­la­tions.

The PAFTRAC Sec­re­tar­iat will be hosted by Afrex­im­bank.

The fol­low­ing were par­tic­i­pants at the meeting: COMESA Busi­ness Coun­cil; the Fed­er­a­tion of West African Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try; the African Busi­ness Roundtable; Afro Cham­pi­ons; the Pan-African Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try; Ethiopian Air­lines; and EBOMAF. Oth­ers were the African De­vel­op­ment Bank; Ecobank; ITC; the African Eco­nomic Re­search Con­sor­tium; the United Na­tions Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Africa (UN-ECA); PanAfrican Univer­sity; CERPAC and the World Di­a­mond Coun­cil.

They should also em­ploy best prac­tices in en­sur­ing that Nige­ria’s econ­omy, which badly needs for­eign in­vest­ment, gains from their par­tic­i­pa­tion

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