Wednesday, 27.09.2017 - Geneva, Switzerland

WTO Public Forum 2017 Working Session: Africa's Continental Free Trade Area: Achieving Human Rights-Consistent Development

The continental free trade area (CFTA) is expected to generate significant gains for Africa in terms of growth, productivity, jobs and incomes. How these gains are divided will be key to determining whether the CFTA is inclusive and helps to accelerate Africa’s poverty reduction.

The working session addressed the question what it would take to ensure that the CFTA promoted human rights and reduced poverty in Africa as responding to the challenges related to agricultural livelihoods, agro-manufacturing and informal cross-border trade will not be an easy task.

The session advanced the understanding of the human rights challenges of vulnerable groups such as smallholder farmers, women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose effective participation in trade would require a multifaceted approach. Therefore policy options for effectively leveraging the CFTA to deliver inclusive trade and development in Africa had been highlighted and concluded that the CFTA process must be inclusive, consultative and participatory.

The recent study “The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Africa – A Human Rights Perspective” was published by the FES Geneva Office and Economic Commission for Africa in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2017 and is available in English and French.

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