• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Forum on free trade in Burundi in the AfCFTA region


May 17, 2024

BUJUMBURA, May 17th (ABP) – The Burundi Development Agency (ADB), in partnership with the Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes (CDE), through the “Unleashing Burundi’s Trade Potential” initiative, organised on Thursday 16 May, in Bujumbura city, a “free trade forum” aimed at popularising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and its implications for Burundi in terms of job creation and business opportunities. The aim was to raise awareness of the economic opportunities offered by Burundi’s membership of the AfCFTA.

In his welcoming remarks, CDE Director General Aimable Manirakiza pointed out that the globalisation of the economy has made free trade a necessity for countries looking to achieve economic prosperity. He pointed out that the African Union and its member countries, including Burundi, have seized that opportunity with open arms.

The aim of the AfCFTA is to make Africa’s integration a reality by serving as an engine for economic growth, industrialisation and sustainable development in Africa, in accordance with the agenda 2030 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, added Mr Manirakiza.

development in Africa in line with the 2030 Agenda adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the African Union’s 2063 Agenda, added Mr Manirakiza.

Reiterating his remarks, the CDE CEO said that among its objectives, the AfCFTA also aims to revitalise the African market and develop intra-African trade by eliminating trade barriers while harmonising recommendations and standards with a view to attracting cross-border and international investment to the continent.

The Director General of ADB in Burundi, Dr Révérien Nizigiyimana, made it clear in his opening remarks that the aim of the forum was to highlight the non-tariff barriers to trade in Burundi and the ways in which those constitute obstacles to Burundi benefiting from the AfCFTA.

                                                                                                             View of the participants

He went on to say that the ADB’s main mission is to promote and facilitate local and foreign investment, and to promote exports. All that is achieved by improving the business climate. It is against that backdrop that the ADB and the CDE have organised that forum to discuss issues relating to the identification of existing non-tariff barriers to Burundi’s free trade in the AfCFTA zone, with a view to finding solutions to eliminate them,” said Dr Nizigiyimana.

Presentations made at the forum showed that Burundi’s foreign trade indicators are showing an increasing trade deficit over time. In terms of trade in goods, it was noted that Burundi is a net importer, with a low rate of coverage of imports by exports, averaging 18% over the period 2005-2019.

To achieve that, Burundi needs to promote regional and international cooperation in order to organise standards and regulations between EAC countries with a view to streamlining trade procedures.

and international cooperation to organise standards and regulations between EAC countries with a view to streamlining trade procedures. It is in Burundi’s interest to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA for its economic growth as part of the implementation of the NDP 2018-2027, but also as part of Burundi’s vision 2040-2060, said the ADB CEO.

The forum brought together all the players involved in trade, including public regulatory agencies, traders’ representatives, representatives from the business and academic worlds, representatives of media professionals, civil society and other public-private players.