November 30, 2019: The African Union, a continental body consisting of the 55 member states and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), one of the largest aid-for-trade organisations worldwide, have signed a partnership to boost the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in selected Southern and Eastern Africa countries. The agreement was signed by ambassador Albert Muchanga, commissioner for trade and industry, AU; ambassador Erastus Mwencha, TMEA board chair; and Frank Matsaert, CEO, TMEA.

TMEA's operations across eight countries, working with government, private sector and civil society to address high trade costs in Eastern Africa and support export growth, is well-positioned to support the African Union on its vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

The partnership prioritises areas of common interest to both organisations including:

%u2022 Collaborate on the development of an Action Plan for the implementation of AfCFTA for selected countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.

%u2022 Complement each other's efforts in supporting the implementation of AfCFTA, specifically the Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) initiative which focuses on seven clusters - trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration as drivers for expanding intra-African Trade and agree with a work plan for the implementation.

%u2022 Encourage in a joint manner the inclusion of the voice of the Private Sector in the negotiations and the implementation of the AfCFTA.

%u2022 Increasing export growth and diversification.

%u2022 Develop and monitor trade/transport corridors to improve the flow of goods, services, people and information between countries and regions, including one-stop border posts (OSBPs).

%u2022 Collaboration in areas of transport infrastructure and operations, trade facilitation, trade logistics, ICT for trade, integration of regional trade networks and support to regional value chains of goods and services.

%u2022 Collaborate on investments and industrial development.

Muchanga said, "AU is indeed excited to work with TMEA, renowned organisation that has implemented successful trade facilitation programmes in East Africa. We want to complement our efforts in implementing the ambitious boosting intra-African trade programme, leverage TMEAs experience and ensure similar trade facilitation initiatives are implemented to boost trade and prosperity for the people in this region."

Mwencha stated, "This partnership with the African Union is an important milestone and embodies our vision for a prosperous Eastern Africa. TMEA can help fast-track implementation of the AfCFTA by supporting the AU programme for BIAT. By implementing quick win measures to %u2018thin' borders and reduce the cost and time to trade along key corridors, TMEA will help keep the momentum going for this ambitious initiative to be realised, while countries are involved in the longer-term exercise of negotiating trade and tariff regimes.

TMEA operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

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