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The 1st Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF)

February 22, 2016 to February 27, 2016

The 1st Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF)

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INVITATION TO REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MEDIA

When: Monday 22 to Saturday 27 February 2016

Where: Medium Conference Hall - AU Headquarters, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

Who: Organised by the Department of Trade and Industry

Format: The meeting will be preceded by a two-day capacity building and information sharing workshop (22-23 February 2016) where the AUC will introduce a capacity needs assessment and share findings and conclusions from a select number of studies that have been conducted on the establishment of the CFTA.

Objective: The main objective of 1st Meeting of the Continental Free Trade Area Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF) is to consider all the post launch preparatory issues and essential process issues and technical documents that will enable the efficient conduct of the negotiations. Specifically, the Meeting will undertake the following:

i. Discuss studies that have been conducted on the establishment of the CFTA;
ii. Identify capacity needs for the CFTA negotiations;
iii. Consider and adopt the Rules of Procedure for the CFTA Negotiating Forum;
iv. Consider technical issues to advance the preparations for the negotiations;
v. Consider the establishment of various Technical Working Groups in specific areas;

Participants: The meeting shall be attended by all the Member States of the African Union. The meeting will also be attended by Trade Officials from the following RECs and institutions; AMU (Arab Maghreb Union), CEN-SAD, COMESA, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC, UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) and the AfDB (African Development Bank).

Background:

The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June 2015 launched the negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The launch of the negotiations marked a major milestone in the implementation of the Summit decision to establish a continental free trade area by 2017. The objective of the CFTA negotiations is to conclude a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the Member States of the African Union. In launching the CFTA negotiations, the Summit adopted the following documents; The objectives and principles of Negotiating the CFTA; The indicative Roadmap for the Negotiation and establishment of the CFTA; The Terms of Reference for the CFTA Negotiating Forum (CFTA-NF); The institutional arrangements for the CFTA negotiations; and The Declaration on the Launch of the negotiations for the establishment of the CFTA. The Roadmap identifies phases in the negotiations for the CFTA, the post launch preparatory phase, the negotiations phase, finalisation of the CFTA Agreement and launch of the Continental Free Trade Area and the domestication of the CFTA agreement by Member States.
The CFTA Negotiating Forum was established by the Assembly and is composed of Officials from the African Union Member States and Regional Economic Communities that are recognised by the African Union. It has the responsibility of conducting trade negotiations at the technical level and it reports to the Committee of Senior Trade Officials on its negotiation activities. The CFTA Negotiating Forum also has the responsibility of preparing quarterly reports on progress made in the negotiations highlighting areas requiring higher level intervention to the Committee of Senior Officials, Ministers of Trade, the High Level African Trade Committee and the Assembly.
The Continental Free Trade Area is an Agenda 2063 flagship project of the African Union.
Journalists are invited to cover the official opening and closing ceremonies of the Capacity Building Session on 22 February 2016 and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Negotiating Forum, on 24 and 27 February 2016.
Media Contacts:
Mr. Patient Atcho, Department of Trade and Industry of the AUC, Tel: +251 911335250, Email: atchop@africa-union.org
Mrs. Esther Azaa Tankou, Ag. Director of Information and Communication of the AUC, via E-mail: YambouE@africa-union.org / esthertankou@yahoo.com
For further information:
Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: DIC@african-union.org I Website: www.au.int I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia

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