African Trade Pact: AU Moves To Eliminate Obstacles

The African Union is currently holding a series of meetings to prevent economic malpractices from hampering implementation of the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area.

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The fight against illicit financial flows and corruption is the main topic of discussion in meetings taking place at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meetings are being held within the framework of the second session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration (STC) running from April 12 to 18.

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They include an independent experts meeting, meeting of Ministers and Governors of central banks and a ministerial meeting which brings together Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning from across Africa.

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The main theme of the STC is “Mobilisation of domestic resources: fighting against corruption and Illicit Financial Flows.” According to AU officials, the theme was coined to reflect the resolve of African Heads of State to stamp out corruption from the continent - a commitment mirrored in the dedication of 2018 as a year of combating corruption under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A sustainable path for Africa’s Transformation.”

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The officials are brainstorming on how to prevent illicit financial flows and other economic malpractices from hampering the effectiveness of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signed last month by 44 African countries.

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Other sub-themes at the STC include ‘corruption and illicit financial flows accentuating inequality and poverty;’ ‘Mobilization of domestic resources in order to meet the needs of development and ensure the independence of the Continent;’ and ‘the fight against money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and repatriation of stolen and illegally acquired assets.’

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It is reported that Africa loses an estimated sum of 50 billion USD annually to illicit financial flows and according to the AU, this factor, coupled with corruption are threatening to damage the growth and achievements the continent has witnessed in the past years.

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It is within this context that the organization stresses the need for a continual fight against these ills and stresses on the implementation of recommendations of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows. The creation of a common currency for Africa is also being discussed.

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