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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ministry Working Towards Free Trade

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Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy, Minister of Trade and Industry

The government of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has held a validation workshop on Sierra Leone’s National Trade Strategy: Repositioning Trade for the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Experts from the public and private sector, representing government, civil society, young people, women and academia met on 4 February 2020 in Freetown to discuss and make contributions.

The National Trade Strategy of Sierra Leone is anchored around implementing the AfCFTA as a means for repositioning Sierra Leone’s trade away from an over-dependence on iron and other mining products, towards more diversified goods and services. The strategy has four components: 1) AfCFTA, 2) Trade support, 3) Industry development, and 4) Institutional capacity building.

Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy, Minister of Trade and Industry, said in his opening speech: “The government of Sierra Leone attaches extreme importance to trade and recognizes that a strong private sector, industrialization, and an enabling environment is critical.”

Mr. David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre of ECA, on his part said: “The entire economy of Sierra Leone amounts to $3.7 billion. And yet, as part of ECOWAS, Sierra Leone is on the doorstep of more than a $700 billion economy with 350 million people. And within Africa, it has access to an economy of 1.3 billion people worth $2.5 trillion in GDP.” Mr. Luke further stated that for Sierra Leone to take advantage of these markets, among many others, the regulatory framework needs greater predictability, better mechanisms for dialogue with the private sector should be in place and trade-related infrastructure needs to be improved.

Mr. Luke added: “With the launch of trading under the AfCFTA set to commence in July 2020, we have at hand a tremendous opportunity to reposition Sierra Leone’s trade for a new era in African trade integration.”

The work in Sierra Leone on implementing the AfCFTA is part of a comprehensive project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies.

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