Women And Youth In Trade

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Article 3 (e) of the Agreement provides for the promotion and attainment of gender equality in the context of trade.The AfCFTA Agreement seeks to promote an equitable and inclusive trade environment in Africa. Article 3 (e) of the Agreement provides for the promotion and attainment of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth, gender equality, and structural transformation of State Parties as one of its general objectives. In Article 27 (2) (d) of the Protocol on Trade in Services, State Parties agree to mobilize resources and implement measures to improve the export capacity of both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium-size, women and youth service suppliers.
African leaders have signalled their willingness to create an enabling environment for women to fully exploit trade opportunities offered by the AfCFTA. The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union thus committed “to broaden inclusiveness in the operation of the AfCFTA through interventions that support young Africans, women, and Small and Medium Enterprises as well as integrating informal cross-border traders into the formal economy by implementing the simplified trade regime”.

In line with the decision of African leaders, the AfCFTA Secretariat is doing the preparatory work towards the negotiations and development of the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade. The Protocol is expected to address the specific constraints and barriers women face when trading on the continent. The Protocol will enable AfCFTA State Parties to effectively address constraints women in trade face and create an environment that allows women to utilize the AfCFTA by accessing wider markets, improving their competitiveness and participating in regional value chains.

The Secretariat has further designed interventions in these value-chains with the potential to add over US$11bn p.a. in production and over US$5bn p.a. in intra-Africa trade – more than double the current contribution of these value-chains to intra-Africa trade. This increase in production and trade could create over 700 000 jobs. These interventions include establishing pan-African standards for the trade of meat and fish, optimizing importation of used vehicles while scaling up automotive production, running a Pan-African campaign to encourage consumers to buy “Made-in-Africa” products, and creating a digital platform to access AfCFTA benefits (e.g., consumer loans for locally made cars).

As of December 2021, consultations have been held in 26 countries and additional consultations are ongoing. These consultations provide women in trade a platform to express their opinion and voice their concerns and needs, thereby, actively participating in the development of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.