Inquiry into the UK’s Africa Free Trade Initiative – Final report October 2016
Trade can be a great motor for development. Yet for both historic and geographic reasons African countries trade less with each other and with the outside world than do countries on other continents.
So the African Free Trade Initiative was important in focusing on what would be a crucial step forward to enable the continent to trade out of poverty. Five years on, this Inquiry – led by Lord Green and Ali Mufuruki and their distinguished team – is a timely review of Why AFTI is necessary, What has been achieved and How to give it renewed impetus. They spell out both principles and practical steps to boost trade both within Africa and between Africa and the UK as well as to maintain it at the forefront of the governmental agenda.
The team sensibly extended their Inquiry to consider the potential implications of Brexit – both positive and negative. They emphasise that Britain should start preparing immediately to prevent disruption of African trade with the UK and take the opportunity to make our trade policy towards Africa as pro-development as possible; incorporating the best elements of EU, US, Canadian and other practices. Hopefully this could become a model for other OECD countries to follow – the model Trade Out of Poverty has long advocated.
Ultimately, Africa’s future lies in African hands which is why the leading role played by African experts, business people, politicians and academics at all stages of this Inquiry makes it so important. As African countries make progress in stimulating trade by removing barriers across the continent – be they tariffs, non-tariff barriers, administrative weaknesses or lack of infrastructure – it is important they can look to the UK and other countries who are trade partners, donors and investors to make sure our policies facilitate, complement and reinforce these developments.
We hope this report is read widely in the capitals of Africa, the departments of Whitehall and development agencies world wide.
Rt Hon Peter Lilley
MP Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Lord Michael Hastings of Scarisbrick, CBE
Co-Chairs, All Party Parliamentary Group for Trade Out of Poverty