African economies have been hit hard by the downturn in global trade triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new World Trade Organization (WTO) publication launched on Day 1 of the Aid for Trade Stocktaking Event, which took place online from 23 to 25 March 2021. The publication, entitled “Strengthening Africa’s capacity to trade”, explores how African countries can leverage the multilateral trading system to take greater advantage of international markets and promote economic transformation.
At the launch of the report, the WTO Director-General said: "This publication is an excellent starting point for efforts to ensure that Africa's economic response to COVID-19 makes full use of the potential of trade to drive recovery, growth and job creation. Aid for Trade has an important role to play in enabling African countries to achieve strong and sustained recoveries that leave no one behind."
With an estimated negative growth rate of -8.0% in 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit hard by the downturn in trade and economic activity caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the report finds. Efforts made by the WTO to revive the progress made before the crisis and help minimise its effects include technical assistance and capacity-building activities for developing countries and least-developed countries, the WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative and support for implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
The report highlights the WTO's deep involvement in the region, with 16% of all technical assistance activities focused on African countries, the highest of any region, and spanning topics such as trade negotiation skills, e-tourism, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, fisheries subsidies and trade policy courses.
Capacity-building projects led by the Standards and Trade Development Facility to facilitate safe and inclusive trade and to help African economies meet their trade and development objectives are showcased in the report. It also highlights the important role policy making can play in government procurement, trade in services, technology transfer for cotton by-products and intellectual property to create an environment conducive to trade development and helping African countries further integrate into the global trading system.
The Index of the Report:
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The effect of COVID-19 on the economies of Africa
Chapter 3: Trends in trade in Africa
Chapter 4: Aid for Trade
Chapter 5: Implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
Chapter 6: Standards and Trade Development Facility
Chapter 7: Intellectual property policymaking
Chapter 8: Government procurement policymaking
Chapter 9: Technology transfer for cotton by-products development in eight African LDCs
Chapter 10: Trade in services
Chapter 11: Technical assistance activities of the WTO
Chapter 12: Mainstreaming trade for industrial development in Africa
Abbreviations and acronyms
The Report is accessible at:
Story by: Riaan de Lange