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African CEOs Advocate Fairer Global Trading System

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A group of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Africa have demanded for a fairer and more transparent global trading system that will support developing countries.

No fewer than 200 African CEOs made the demand in a new survey commissioned by the Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFRAC), and conducted by African Business magazine in partnership with the Afreximbank.

The survey which was conducted to gauge the private sector view around trade, has highlighted the private sector’s desire for considerable reforms to make the global trade rules system fairer and more transparent.

From the findings, 65 percent of the CEOs surveyed feel the current global trading system is unfair to Africa, 37 percent of the CEOs feel WTO as it stands is ineffective.

In addition, the CEOs were however, optimistic about the future outlook as over 50 percent of them believe global trade will increase over the next 12 months, and over 70 percent of them also believe Intra-Africa trade will increase over the next 12 months.

Although, the majority of CEOs believed that the global trading system was unfair, some also see the multilateral system strengthening in the coming years. They outlined a set of reforms that should be undertaken for a fairer and more transparent trading system, including in the areas of voice and participation, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, agriculture and subsidies.


The respondents were surveyed around issues concerning the WTO and trade in general. It was done in light of the next phase of ongoing consultations to select the institution’s next Director General

Interestingly, three out of the eight candidates gunning for coveted office are from Africa. They include, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh.

The survey also covered a number of areas which revealed a general consensus that the current rules penalise the African continent and its private sector. 86.6 percent of the respondents understand the role of the WTO in global trade. Nevertheless, a majority believe the WTO is not effective in fulfilling its role.

Similarly, infrastructure, logistics and human capital were cited as two major constraints to growth in Africa, the CEOs also stressed the skewed international trade regime as another key constraint.

President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah said as the pan-African trade finance bank, Afreximbank has been mandated to host the PAFTRAC secretariat, adding that any reform needs to support a burgeoning African private sector and an increasingly integrated Africa.

“We have seen, over the past quarter of a century since the WTO was formed, the emergence of a robust and dynamic African private sector, and more recently significant steps to integrate Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The WTO and its new leadership will need to recognise the imperative of African integration and put development at the centre of any trade agenda”, he added.

Speaking in a similar vein, Chair of PAFTRAC, Pat Utomi stressed that unless reform was forthcoming the current global crisis may penalise the African private sector even further.

“We have seen during this pandemic companies in the industrialised world have received massive bailouts, tax incentives, not to mention government contracts and fiscal stimuli.

“Companies in Africa were not so fortunate and will have to deal with a world where trade will be depressed because of the post-covid environment. As such, a fairer global trade environment and trading system is more urgent today than ever”, he further noted.

Meanwhile, the survey as well as a debate around a communiqué to be sent to all candidates who are in the race for the directorship of the WTO was presented at a webinar hosted by the Afreximbank on Thursday.


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