New tool enables African businesses to find continent-wide trade opportunities as AfCFTA begins in 2021

container 1611490 640A new trade intelligence tool that allows firms to easily explore and compare trade opportunities across Africa has been launched ahead of the start of trade under the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The African Trade Observatory was launched by the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC) at the AU summit on 5 December 2020. “Trade information is vital to the promotion of trade in Africa,” said AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry HE Amb. Albert Muchanga.

The AfCFTA reduces trade barriers and promotes regional economic integration. Continental trade is scheduled to begin on 1 January 2021. ‘Economic Integration is close to the heart of the European Union and will continue to support the African Union towards its endeavour of the African Common Market,’ added European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships HE Jutta Uripilainen.

The African Trade Observatory is particularly valuable for empowering economic operators during the COVID-19 pandemic, said ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton. “‘Today, we are putting an entire continent of trade intelligence at the fingertips of African entrepreneurs, especially to support small local firms, women and young people in making the most of new opportunities.”

The beta version of the web platform, currently available in French and English, was published during the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the AfCFTA. The Arabic and Portuguese versions will be available in the near future.

After the release of two publicly available modules (Compare and Explore), policymakers and regional economic communities will have access to a third Monitor module. This module will provide a range of real-time indicators on trade flows, the use of AfCFTA tariff preferences, tax revenues, clearance time and trade simulations, thereby facilitating the evaluation of the implementation process and impact of AfCFTA.

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