African economies have been hit hard by the downturn in global trade triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new WTO publication launched during the virtual Aid for Trade Stocktaking Event.
The publication entitled “Strengthening Africa’s capacity to trade” explores how African countries can leverage the multilateral trading system to take greater advantage of international markets and promote economic transformation.
At the launch of the report, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “This publication is an excellent starting point for efforts to ensure that Africa’s economic response to COVID-19 makes full use of the potential of trade to drive recovery, growth and job creation. Aid for Trade has an important role to play in enabling African countries to achieve strong and sustained recoveries that leave no one behind.”
With an estimated negative growth rate of -8.0 per cent in 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit hard by the downturn in trade and economic activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the report finds. Efforts made by the WTO to revive the progress made before the crisis and help minimize its effects include technical assistance and capacity-building activities for developing countries and least-developed countries, the WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative and support for implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The report highlights the WTO’s deep involvement in the region, with 16.0 per cent of all technical assistance activities focused on African countries, the highest of any region, and spanning topics such as trade negotiation skills, e-tourism, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, fisheries subsidies and trade policy courses.
Capacity-building projects led by the Standards and Trade Development Facility to facilitate safe and inclusive trade and to help African economies meet their trade and development objectives are showcased in the report. It also highlights the important role policy making can play in government procurement, trade in services, technology transfer for cotton-by products and intellectual property to create an environment conducive to trade development and helping African countries further integrate into the global trading system. ZIJ/29/03/2021
By [email protected]