The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the Ministry of Commerce of China on Friday signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish an expert group on economic co-operation.
The group, when assembled, would share experience on intellectual property rights, customs procedures, digital trade, competition policy, among other areas, and exchange concepts, policies, and progress on the institutional capacity and implementation of the AfCFTA.
China would share information on its foreign trade and investment facilitation cooperation including Africa; the group would enhance trade and investment cooperation between the two parties, as well as co-ordinate China’s support towards the building of the AfCFTA and the execution of the secretariat’s mandate.
Under the MoU, the expert group would also be expected to facilitate dialogue between the AfCFTA Secretariat, the AfCFTA State Parties, and the relevant Chinese departments and institutions in collaboration with the African Union (AU) Representative Office in Beijing.
The Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, WamkeleMene, and China’s Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, QianKeming, signed the documents at a virtual ceremony witnessed by delegations from the secretariat and country respectively.
MrMene said the MOU presented an important platform for strengthening the relations between the continent and the country which is rooted in mutual cooperation and shared growth, thereby contributing to the achievement of the AfCFTA objectives.
He said China was a strong partner to Africa and had provided Africa with significant development and investment support through infrastructure and industrial projects in Africa as well as opened up its market of 1.4 billion consumers to African products.
Noting that China had been providing financial assistance to the Secretariat since its establishment, MrMene said, the MoU, particularly the aspects on intellectual property rights, investment, competition policy, and digital trade would be critical for the impending AfCFTA Phase II negotiations.
“China has made tremendous progress in the knowledge economy, where innovation is the driver for economic growth and intellectual property is the anchor of innovation. China, therefore, has the experience to support the AfCFTA processes in these key areas”, he said.
“The AfCFTA will produce new trading and investment opportunities for China in various economic sectors, including agro-processing, automobiles, and financial technology”, he said.
On his part, MrQian said the MoU would solidify the relations between the country and continent for mutual benefits and indicated China’s commitment to ensuring that this objective is met.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR