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UK Government ramps up trading in Africa

Launch of the African Free Trade initiative (AFTi) to boost African trade as part of the UK Government's Trade and Investment White Paper.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK is to launch a new initiative to boost African trade through reduced bureaucracy, improved transport infrastructure and more efficient border crossings Andrew Mitchell said today.

The African Free Trade initiative (AFTi) will see Britain provide technical experts to unblock issues that continue to hold back economic growth across the region. This will include advising African countries on the design of border posts, infrastructure investment and analysis of major transport bottlenecks.

Expected results include cutting the time it takes to travel the length of Africa’s North South Corridor from nine to seven days and reducing the journey time for goods lorries from Mombasa to Uganda and back to Mombasa by three days.

The initiative will help to break down trade barriers and open up opportunities for entrepreneurs, both large and small, to access new markets and invest in expanding production and trade.

Andrew Mitchell, International Development Secretary, said:

“The African Free Trade Initiative clearly demonstrates the UK’s commitment to helping to oil the wheels of trade in Africa.

“We are offering real, tangible help, from technical assistance on transport infrastructure projects to technical assistance with streamlining border post bureaucracy. Together these will enable traders to move goods more quickly.

“Trade is vital to development. Trade drives growth which in turn creates wealth in communities. Through trade we can help people to pull themselves out of poverty.

“AFTi will make trade in Africa faster, easier and cheaper, speeding up access to markets for traders and encouraging entrepreneurs in the region to grow their businesses.”

AFTi is part of the UK Government’s Trade and Investment White Paper, part of which will set out how the UK will support African efforts to join up their economies and increase trade between them and the rest of the world.

The UK Government’s Trade and Investment White Paper, launched today, set out an ambitious range of actions to help secure a strong, sustainable and open global economy that benefits all nations, including:

  • Working to finalise the Doha round of trade negotiations delivering a £110bn boost per year to the global economy. 2011 is the make or break year;
  • Pursuing an ambitious programme of EU Free Trade Agreements with key trading partners including India, Canada, Singapore, the South American Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) and hopefully also Japan;
  • Assisting developing countries to benefit from trade and investment by pushing for global trade rules that support their needs, promoting greater market access for Least Developed Countries and implementing ambitious bilateral aid programmes that promote trade and regional integration, particularly in Africa;
  • Resisting protectionism, championing open markets, and pushing back the remaining trade and investment barriers within the European Single Market and the wider world.

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Published 9 February 2011