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African Trade Ministers Urge Increased Intra-African Trade, Industrialization

27 April 2012: African Ministers emphasized the need for increased industrialization and integration for boosting trade, specifically stressing the need t0 boost intra-African trade, during a Special Session of a Meeting of African Ministers of Trade, held prior to the 13th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII), as well as during UNCTAD XIII.

During the Special Session on 20 April 2012, Ministers called for the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which could increase trade by 50.7% within 12 years. This was stressed as crucial for boosting transformation, development and real incomes in the region. The call was reiterated during a special session of UNCTAD XIII, titled "The rise of the South: the world turned upside down," where examples of such success were provided. Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), underscored the necessity of partnerships with organizations such as UNCTAD to achieve these goals. Others noted that increased trade could be achieved only through industrialization, improved infrastructure and improved trade facilitation, particularly in the face of the global financial crisis. The importance of advocacy for trade was also stressed.

During these sessions, Ministers said sustained economic growth leading to increased employment opportunities and income as well as a decrease in inequality was at the heart of the discussion. Many stressed that these efforts should additionally work to decrease the vulnerability of countries in Africa.

UNCTAD XIII took place from 21-26 April 2012, in Doha, Qatar, and concluded with the adoption of the "Doha Mandate." [ECA Press Release - 24 April 2012] [ECA Press Release - 22 April 2012] [ECA Press Release - 21 April 2012] [ECA Press Release - 20 April 2012] [Address by UNECA Executive Secretary, Abdoulie Janneh] [UNCTAD XIII Website]