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National Experts meet to discuss the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth

The ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, organised a virtual regional meeting on 16 – 17 February 2023 on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Protocol on Women and Youth, in preparations for the negotiations.

The overall objective of this regional meeting is to consolidate ideas on priority areas for ECOWAS with a view towards a common approach to integrating Women & Youth issues for the ECOWAS region in the AfCFTA negotiations.

In his opening remarks on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, the Chair of the meeting Mr Júlio COLONIA, Chief Negotiator and Director of Trade Agreements’ Section, thanked the ECOWAS Commission for organizing the meeting. He highlighted that women and youth constitute an important part of the West African population, and as such they have a role to play in making the AfCFTA a reality. He stressed the fact that half of the African population is young and therefore the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth promises a better future for the continent.

In his speech on behalf of the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Honourable Madam Massadjé TOURE-LITSE, the Acting Director of Trade, Mr Kolawole SOFOLA, recalled the Decision of the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly, held in February 2022 in Addis Ababa, on the inclusion of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade in the scope of the AfCFTA Agreement.

He highlighted that a Protocol on Women and Youth will ensure that that women and youth reap the benefits of the AfCFTA in order to realize the promises of the Agreement aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment. He added that the meeting provided a unique platform that bring together, Trade Experts and Negotiators, as well as gender and youth Experts and stakeholders to consolidate ideas and make recommendations for a Women and Youth Protocol.

The meeting which was attended by Trade Experts, as well as Gender and Youth Experts from ECOWAS Member States, discussed priority areas that the Protocol should address to unlock trading opportunities for women traders and youth entrepreneurs in the ECOWAS region, under the AfCFTA.

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