African Trade Policy Centre begins work again with a new regional focus
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ECA Press Release No. 27/2008 

Addis Ababa, 31 October 2008 -(ECA)- The second phase of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC II) has been launched with programming missions to the Secretariats of the East African Community (EAC) from 8-9 September 2008 and Southern African Development Community (SADC) from 25-26 September 2008. A similar mission is planned to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by the end of 2008. These working visits by ATPC staff to key stakeholders and partners give a strong signal of the new strategic orientation of ATPC, which is now taking on a comprehensive regional approach to trade policy capacity building.

While the approach used during the first phase of ATPC to deliver technical assistance, notably by undertaking impact assessment studies for individual African countries achieved positive results, the Centre's overall focus now involves pan-African institutions and sub-regional bodies in the process of trade policy formulation in Africa .

The rationale for adopting a regional approach to addressing Africa 's trade related problems is compelling. First, regional integration arrangements can help African countries overcome constraints arising from small domestic markets – allowing them, for example, to reap the benefits of scale economies, stronger competition, and more domestic and foreign investment. Second, the small size of African countries makes cooperation in international negotiations an attractive option achievable through regional integration arrangements. In essence, cooperation can increase countries' bargaining power and visibility.

Africa's Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are central to the quest to obtain robust, self-sustaining economic growth and development on the continent, as they are the building blocks of the implementation of the regional integration in Africa . They are also increasingly involved in negotiating regional trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union and Free Trade Agreements with other regions. The regional dimension of ATPC's work will therefore be reflected in a greater focus on building the capacity of RECs with the aim of enabling sustainability and the strengthening of institutional capacities.

Furthermore, the strategic orientation of ATPC II will rest on three pillars which are (1) providing fully integrated trade capacity building for RECs as institutions; (2) providing comprehensive capacity building for trade constituencies; and (3) mainstreaming cross-cutting items in trade policy analysis and implementation.

One key expected impact of ATPC II is effective and more equitable African participation in international trade processes for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction .

More details on the ATPC's latest activities are presented in the latest edition of the ATPC newsletter which is dedicated to the recent programming missions, the continental workshop on EPAs and a mission by Gender Equality and African Regional Institution Project (GEARI) to Addis Ababa. It also reports recent ATPC studies and events on trade facilitation.

 

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