Libreville(Rep. Gabon), July 18, 2023–This morning, experts from the eleven member states of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) began their discussions on the Customs Union, the regional strategy of the Continental Free Trade Area (ZLECAf) and the master plan for industrialization and economic diversification in Central Africa. Over four days, the aim of the Libreville meeting is to present the initiatives undertaken by the ECCAS Commission with a view to helping the countries of the region face the various endogenous and exogenous challenges hampering regional development, and to breathe new life into the process of economic and trade integration in Central Africa.
Two speeches were delivered during the opening ceremony, namely the opening address by the President of the ECCAS Commission, His Excellency the President of the ECCAS Commission, and the opening address by the President of the ECCAS Commission, His Excellency the President of the ECCAS Commission, His Excellency the President of the ECCAS Commission. Excellency Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimoread by the Commissioner for the Common Market, Economic and Financial Affairs Mr François Kanimba and the opening speech by Gabon’s Minister of Trade, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Yves Fernand Manfoumbi.
After thanking the Gabonese authorities for the facilities provided for the preparation and holding of this meeting, and welcoming the experts and partners who had travelled to Libreville, demonstrating their interest in the regional integration process, Commissioner Kanimba set out the regional and global context in which this concertation was being held, These include globalization and the accentuated dynamic in the formation of economic groupings, and the need for the countries of Central Africa, whose economies are extroverted and constantly subject to exogenous shocks, to rise to the challenges of their integration into the continental and world economies.
Commissioner Kanimba pinpointed two major challenges to be met: on the one hand, that of trade integration and the building of a regional common market offering opportunities for businesses and populations, and on the other, that of developing the productive capacities needed to strengthen the competitiveness and positioning of economies on regional and international markets.
In his opening address, Gabon’s Minister of Trade, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Yves Fernand Manfoumbi He also congratulated the ECCAS Commission “for having taken the initiative of organizing this meeting, which prepares the way for the first session of the Specialized Ministerial Technical Committee on the Common Market, Economic, Monetary and Financial Affairs to be held in the coming weeks”. Looking back over the history of the community, the Gabonese government member praised the ambition of the founding fathers, who took the initiative of creating a “single customs territory in which populations and businesses could benefit from the enormous potential in terms of natural resources that abound in all the states of the sub-region. He then spoke of the need to deploy the Customs Union in a cohesive manner, so that it makes a real contribution to the economic and social development of our States, and can generate positive externalities to improve people’s living conditions.
One thing leading to another, Yves Fernand Manfoumbi has woven a link between the operationalization of the ECCAS Customs Union and the continental context marked by the implementation of the AfCFTA. He called on the experts to be resourceful in examining the draft regional strategy for the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area. A call that all the participants seem to have heeded, as they quickly got down to work, just after posing for posterity.