Amid an unprecedented global trade slowdown, African policy-makers,
negotiators and trade analysts will meet on 25-26 May 2017 in
Mauritius to discuss priorities for reviving world trade
and strengthening their trading capacity.
Since 2014, world trade has declined by more than US$3 trillion with
Sub-Saharan Africa’s combined exports falling by about 40 per cent –
from US$403 billion to less than US$250 billion.
Participants will discuss the most pressing trade and development
challenges for Commonwealth African member states, in the light of
unfavourable global economic and trade patterns, rising protectionism
and growing discontent about globalisation.
The meeting will also be an opportunity for reviewing the current
issues for multilateral trade negotiations, especially since the
World Trade Organisation is hosting its 11th ministerial
conference in Buenos Aires in December.
The regional consultation will take into consideration the outcomes
of the Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ meeting, held in March this
year in London, particularly to explore avenues through which
intra-Commonwealth trade and investment opportunities can be
The meeting will also provide a platform for African member states
to assess various trade policy options, including UK-Africa trade
relations post-Brexit, advancing African integration through the
Continental Free Trade Agreement, and priority issues for the
upcoming Global Review of Aid for Trade in July.
The Commonwealth Secretariat will launch its new Handbook on Regional
Integration in Africa: Towards Agenda 2063 in Mauritius. The handbook
provides a unique resource on current dynamics, opportunities,
challenges and policy options for Africa’s regional integration
agenda. Agenda 2063 is the African Union’s strategic framework for
the socio-economic transformation of the continent over 50 years.
Past and present trade negotiators will also convene to finalise a
proposal to establish an informal Commonwealth African Trade
Brendan Vickers, Economic Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat
said: “African countries are engaged in a range of global, regional
and bilateral negotiations on trade and trade-related issues.
However, one of the major challenges confronting Africa is the lack
of capacity to undertake trade negotiations, although many
experienced negotiator from Africa are willing to help.
“This network aims to bring these negotiators together and provide a
‘think tank’ for Africa for future trade negotiations. Drawing on
the collective experience, knowledge and wisdom of present and past
trade negotiators, the network will help set out strategic priorities
for Africa’s current and future trade agenda, assess opportunities
and challenges, brainstorm particular negotiating and policy issues,
and explore ways to unlock any impasse in some of the
The meeting is being organised in partnership with the government of
Mauritius. It will be opened by Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade.