Africa Gets Private Sector Trade, Investment Committee

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* Utomi to preside over body for two years

Ndubuisi Francis on Abuja

Africa’s leading private sector institutions and corporates have 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.

Although Nigeria is yet to sign the AfCFTA, Prof. Pat Utomi, who is the founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership, emerged the first chairperson of PAFTRAC for a two-year term.

A communique issued at the end of a meeting co-hosted by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Union Commission, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said that PAFTRAC would enhance African private sector participation and galvanise the views of the African private sector, mainstreaming them into trade and investment policy making.

According to the communique, by providing a framework for effective public-private partnership in the promotion of African trade, PAFTRAC 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.”

Speaking during the meeting, which was co-chaired by the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Ambassador Albert Muchanga, and President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, Muchanga said that PAFTRAC was an important stepping stone towards the establishment of the African Business Council provided for under the AfCFTA Framework.

In his remarks, Oramah said that 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.

PAFTRAC will be driven by a group of leaders comprising chief executives of leading African businesses and financial institutions, representatives of regional African business councils and chambers of commerce. It will also include representatives of African policy and research institutions.

Prof. Utomi, who is the founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership, emerged the first chairperson of PAFTRAC for a two-year term.

In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Utomi is a professor of political economy and a management expert.

He will be supported by vice-chairpersons drawn from different regions of the continent.

PAFTRAC members are committed to mobilising wider private sector support for the PAFTRAC initiative and adopted a work programme for the period 2019 to 2021, which will, among others, 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.

Participating in the meeting were the COMESA Business Council; 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, among others.