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Lawmakers urged to speedily ratify African Free Trade Agreement

Authors: EABC | Koang Pal Chang | Published: Monday, November 15, 2021

Some of TNLA MPs who recently visited East African Community Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The MPs were accompanied by 'Consultant' Ms. Animu Risasi - Credit | EABC | 13th November 2021

East African Business Council has urged lawmakers in South Sudan to spearhead the quick ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement or AfCFTA.

The African Free Trade Area Agreement is aimed to help the EAC bloc to ably tap into the 1.3 billion continental market.

The agreement objective is to reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regu­latory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade.

Speaking to South Sudan MPs during the visit, Mr. John Bosco Kalisa said that the Free Trade Area agreement will enable job creation of 14 million new jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Kalisa who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer EAC business council stated that this will also boost trade diversification and improve living standards for women cross border traders and SMEs.

He elaborated that the EAC Partner States are negotiating the Free Trade Area agreement as one bloc.

Mr. Kalisa points out that South Sudan has a competitive advantage in the livestock & agriculture sector and SMEs in leather, shea butter industries should be integrated into the regional value chain to boost production capacity and export more to the continent.

He commended the government of  South Sudan for waiving visa fees for East Africans and safeguarding border points such as the Nimule-Juba highway.

Mr. Kalisa said that safety security facilitates the movement of goods, services and boosts economic growth.

On his part, Dignmoi Ubur, an MP from South Sudan explained that, “no economy can succeed without business and the Government of South Sudan is committed to improving the business environment to attract more investments.”

He urged the Business Council to build the capacity of youth and women on entrepreneurship, digital technology.

Mary Nyarieka, one of the visiting lawmakers said South Sudan has set up a Youth Enterprise Development Fund to promote self-employment, wealth & job creation.

Other MPs from South Sudan, Peter Lomede, Malek Cook and Moses Evans also urged EABC to partner with EALA members and sensitize the business South Sudanese on the opportunities availed by the EAC integration and Free Trade Area agreement.

Other areas of collaboration include: improving public-private dialogue and capacity building of South Sudan National Chambers of Commerce Industries and Agriculture; supporting the formation of sectoral business associations and hosting joint regional events in South Sudan.

Ms. Animu Risasi whose appointment to the Peace Parliament was revoked by President Kiir accompanied the lawmakers to EAC headquarters as consultant.

The East African Business Council is the regional apex body of private sector associations and Corporates from the 6 East African countries.

It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process of the East African Community.

The African Free Trade Area Agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019. It is the continent’s most ambitious integration initiative.

The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area was signed at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Assembly on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The main objectives of the agreement is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, expand intra-Africa trade across the regional economic communities and the continent in general, enhance competitiveness and support economic transformation.

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