The Africa Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in partnership with the UK-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), has released a working report titled ‘Africa trade and Covid-19: The supply chain dimension’.

The report sheds light on the impact of the pandemic on trade and value chains in Africa, with a special focus on Ethiopia and Kenya, and the pharmaceutical sector.

The report, as observed by Development Diaries, showed that the Covid-19 pandemic had created significant disruptions to global value chains, through lockdown induced contractions in demand and supply, and increased transport and transactions costs in foreign trade and growing use of export bans.

It was noted that about 82 percent and 96 percent of Africa’s imports of food items, and medicinal and pharmaceutical products, respectively, originate from outside the continent.

Also problematic has been the shift in the Covid-19 epicentre from China, which accounts for 11 percent of African exports and 16 percent of imports, to Europe, which accounts for 33 percent of African exports and 32 percent of imports.

The Coordinator of ATPC, David Luke, said, ‘Covid-19 has magnified Africa’s cross-border trade challenges, and endemic reliance on imports of essential food and medical products.

‘Implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement must be fast tracked to help African countries bounce back from the pandemic and facilitate the emergence of robust and resilient African supply chains’.

It was noted that the report made specific policy recommendations on how the ACFTA could be reconfigured to reflect the new realities and risks of the 21st century and also set of priority actions needed for the ACFTA to build competitive and resilient African value chains and economies in the post Covid-19 era.

There was also an overarching recommendation for African policymakers to revisit the ACFTA built-in agenda to introduce a new ambitious work programme of simultaneous negotiations on phase two and three issues, as well as prioritisation of the liberalisation of health and education in services in 2021 to 2022.

Source: Ethiopian Press Agency

Photo source: Francisco Anzola

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