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Senegal prepares to host Regional Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area

The regional forum, taking place on 24 and 25 June in Dakar, Senegal will focus on issues related to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and its impact on the regions of West and Central Africa.

The forum, which is jointly organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Senegalese Government, the African Union Commission and the European Union, will be a space for regional and multi-stakeholder dialogue on issues related to the implementation of the AfCFTA in the French-speaking Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Under the theme "Implementing the AfCFTA: Deepening Africa's Integration for a Prosperous Continent" stakeholders - policymakers, business, civil society organizations and research institutions - will be invited to make recommendations on the ways and means to implement the AfCFTA. In order to secure inclusive and sustainable change for the economies of the sub-region, particularly in terms of industrialization, economic diversification and job creation.

"This forum aims to foster constructive exchanges to learn from other regional integration frameworks and ultimately assess the extent to which Regional Economic Communities can serve as a foundation for unlocking the trade potential of the AfCFTA in West and Central Africa." Says Adeyinka Adeyemi, ECA Senior Advisor to the African Trade Policy Center (ATPC)

During this two-day meeting, the Forum will consider several central themes in plenary sessions:

- AfCFTA as a home-grown initiative to promote integration and boost industrial competitiveness and job creation in Africa
- Public policies for successful trade integration and digitalization to stimulate economic diversification, promote industrial competitiveness and support job creation
- The AfCFTA as a catalyst for investment
- Trade facilitation to unlock the potential of the AfCFTA for West and Central Africa
- Stimulating the manufacturing sector: the case of the Pharmaceutical industry value chain

Group sessions will also focus on specific issues related to the implementation of the Free Trade Area including:
- How the AfCFTA will benefit ECOWAS and ECCAS
- Round Table on Women and Youth Entrepreneurship
- AfCFTA, civil society and development partners

"The effective implementation of the AfCFTA has a number of strengths and also challenges which are specific to the West and Central African region," says Mr Adeyemi. "These regional peculiarities must be evaluated in consultation with all the key players so that they can benefit fully from a continental free trade area".

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations (UN).
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