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Experts to discuss strategies for Africa’s integration agenda

afrol News, 9 October - Senior officials from African countries and experts representing pan-African institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are convening next week in Addis Ababa to devise strategies to translate commitments to regional integration into concrete actions at national level.

Discussions will be held under the framework of the sixth Committee on Trade, Regional Cooperation and Integration (CTRI) which is being organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) from 13 to 15 October 2009.

According to the ECA, the focus this year is on mainstreaming regional integration at national level since many protocols and other regional integration instruments agreed upon at continental and sub regional levels are pending ratification and implementation by member countries.

Participants will address this implementation gap, said the ECA in a statement, adding that they will also chart ways of ensuring an effective coordination between regional integration objectives and the policy making process at national level in key areas.

These are said to include completing missing links in cross-border road networks needed to promote trade and adhering to robust macro-economic policy convergence parameters.

International trade is also featuring high on the agenda of the sixth session of the CTRI. According to the ECA, Intra-African trade is still less than 10 percent of Africa’s trade and the share of the continent in global trade remains below 3 percent. The sixth session of the CTRI will provide an opportunity to review the status of Aid for Trade Initiative and seek ways of making it more operational in Africa, said the ECA statement, adding that an update will also be provided on the on-going negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with the European Union.

In addition to formulating policy recommendations for the enhancement of the regional integration process in Africa, the committee will address statutory issues including a review of the ECA’s NEPAD and Regional Integration Division work programme and priorities for the biennium 2010-2011.

The Committee on Trade Regional Integration and Cooperation was established in 1997 as one of the subsidiary bodies of the ECA’s Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Its mandate is to facilitate the coordination of regional integration related activities carried out by ECA and other actors and advise on priorities to be reflected in the work programme of the Commission.

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