African Integration Forum events highlight the African Trade Observatory for accelerating continental integration and economic recovery
Intra-African trade can play a pivotal role in fostering more economically beneficial, sustainable and inclusive growth. Relative to trade with partners beyond the continent, intra-African trade is characterized by a higher level of processing, more technologically advanced goods, and a higher level of product diversification. In fact, 61% of Intra-African exports are in semi-processed and processed goods, relative to only 28% of exports to other partners beyond the continent. Intra-continental trade also provides greater support to women-owned enterprises. Nevertheless, identifying and harnessing new regional opportunities requires the right tools to guide entrepreneurs and policymakers in their decisions.
In commemoration of African Integration Day, the African Union (AU), the European Union, and the International Trade Centre engaged in a series of sessions between 7 and 8 July that highlighted how the African Trade Observatory Dashboard can support the effective implementation of the AfCFTA and strengthen continental integration. The sessions brought together an audience from across AU members, including policymakers and entrepreneurs, to shed light on how the digital dashboard can empower firms to take advantage of the continent’s emerging opportunities. As AfCFTA implementation moves forward, companies will be better equipped to take data-driven business decisions, while policymakers keep abreast of trade impacts on their economies.
The new online version (https://ato.africa/en) offers updated statistics, is available in Arabic and Portuguese in addition to English and French, and unveils a new analytical module to meet the needs of policymakers. The newly released Monitor module grants authorised policymakers access to detailed and timely information on trade performance, trade opportunities, level of processing of traded products and the utilization of trade agreements.
In addition to revolutionizing the scope of available trade and information, the African Trade Observatory project is also improving the speed of access with real time data on tax and tariff information through a customized data transfer system. This new system has been successfully installed in Comoros, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia.
“With $22 billion of untapped export potential on the continent, African entrepreneurs will now be better equipped to seize new opportunities, create better jobs, and spark inclusive growth. Further progress in tariff liberalization could drive additional trade growth. If all AU members fully liberalized tariffs across all products in the coming five years, another $19.8 billion of intra-regional export growth could be possible.”
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
“The new Monitor module will provide African policymakers with strategic insights on the sophistication of their exports, to what extent their exporters are benefitting from preferential market access as well as forecasts of trade potential in key sectors. The African Union Commission will continue to provide support towards the successful utilization of the African Trade Observatory in support of the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.”
Acting Director, Mr. Jean-Denis Gabikini on behalf of H.E. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner of Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, African Union
“Economic Integration is one of the strategic and traditional areas of mutual interest for EU-AU cooperation and a key Pillar of the new EU-Africa Partnership. The EU as the unique peer and neighbouring Union to the AU, is committed to continue supporting the African efforts towards continental integration. Our engagement materialises not only through sharing some of our integration experiences but also by providing support to key AU flagship initiatives like the AfCFTA and the ATO. As announced, the EU has just provided extra funding of € 5 million EU funding for ATO’s Second phase. EU total funding to set up the ATO amounts now to € 10.1 million”
H.E. Ambassador Birgitte Markussen, Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union
Notes for the Editor
About the African Trade Observatory
The African Union Assembly Decision/AU/Dec.394 (XVIII) to establish an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and to endorse the Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) Action Plan was adopted on 18 January 2012. One of the Policy Clusters of the BIAT Action Plan is Trade Information. In addition, the Architecture of the AfCFTA as envisaged in the Decision includes, among others, the establishment of the African Union Trade Observatory (ATO), to be located within the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the AU Commission (AUC). The ATO constitutes one of the five operational instruments of the AfCFTA launched during the 12th Extra-Ordinary African Union Summit, held in July 2019, Niamey, Niger.
The African Trade Observatory provides market intelligence to the Pan-African Business Community, policymakers, academia and think tanks. It provides real-time data on international trade, information on market regulations and government laws. For more information on the project, visit https://ato.africa/en/about and/or view the videos below:
- https://youtu.be/nPWozjruSPs (Arabic)
- https://youtu.be/1Detnq6V3oQ (English)
- https://youtu.be/eOveoJhioIc (French)
- https://youtu.be/6kMC00H5aUI (Portuguese)
The ATO project is led by the African Union (AU), implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and supported by the European Union (EU).
About the African Union (AUC)
The African Union Commission (AUC) is the AU's Secretariat and undertakes the day to day activities of the Union. It is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its functions, include: Representing the AU and defending its interests under the guidance of and as mandated by the Assembly and the Executive Council. African Union Commission Department of Trade and Industry’s core mandate is to support the AU in Boosting Intra-African Trade, fast track establishment and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and to ensure Africa's competitiveness in the global economy. For more information, visit www.au.int.
About the European Union (EU)
The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political union between 27 European countries.
The EU has delivered more than half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards and launched a single European currency: the euro. More than 340 million EU citizens in 19 countries now use it as their currency and enjoy its benefits.
As enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, ‘the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail’. For more information visit: https://europa.eu/european-union.
About the International Trade Centre (ITC)
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development. For more information, visit www.intracen.org.
For more information, please contact
International Trade Centre
P: +41 (0)22 730 0626
Esther Azaa Tankou
Directorate of Information and Communication
P: +251 911 361 185
Press and Information Officer at the EU Delegation to the AU
P: +251 11 416 37 00
 ITC and UNCTAD (forthcoming): Unlocking Regional Trade Opportunities for in Africa for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future. ITC, Geneva.