From 2nd to 4th August 2017, the beautiful city of Abuja in the Federal Republic of Nigeria hosted a Think Tank Meeting on Intra-regional Fish Trade in Africa in the context of the Africa’s Agriculture Growth and Transformation Agenda. The meeting was organized by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and WorldFish with support from the European Union (EU).
The overall objective of this meeting was to present the research and development findings and outputs by studies under the Fisheries Governance and Fish Trade Projects and to identify policy entry points that will enhance intra-regional trade of fish and fish products for improved and significant contributions to the Malabo goals of tripling regional trade by 2025.
The specific objectives included:
- Assess the status of the regional fish trade in Africa and its contribution to food and nutrition security.
- Assess the institutional and policy environment hindering intra-African fish trade.
- Share experiences (best practices, knowledge and lessons learnt) on regional fish trade.
- Identify priority policy entry points and develop action plans for various national and regional stakeholders to strengthen their roles in facilitating inter and intra-regional fish trade in the continent.
The workshop was attended by 57 participants. These include experts in charge of trade matters and Directors of Fisheries of AU MS; consultants and experts from the continent; Regional Economic Communities, Regional Fisheries Bodies and the private sector. The following countries were represented Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda. Regional Institutions and Organizations included IGAD, EAC, and LVFO. WorldFish, NEPAD and AU-IBAR were also represented.
The opening ceremony was marked by welcome statements from Dr. Simplice Nouala on behalf of the Director AU-IBAR, Dr. Bernice Mclean representing the CEO NEPAD Agency and Dr. Aboubacar Sidibe for the ECOWAS Commission. The workshop was presided by His Excellency, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri (Ph.D.); Federal Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The discussions were facilitated by Dr. Mohamed Seisay, Senior Fisheries Officer, AU-IBAR and were informed by presentations in the following sequence.
- Background, Objectives and Expected outcomes of the workshop.
- Review of national and regional fish trade policies in Southern Africa Region.
- Framework for the harmonization/coherence of fish trade policies in Southern Africa Region.
- Review of national and regional fish trade policies in East Africa Region.
- Framework for the harmonization/coherence of fish trade policies in East Africa Region.
- Review of national and regional fish trade policies in West Africa Region.
- Framework for the harmonization/coherence of fish trade policies in west Africa Region.
- Review of national and regional fish trade policies in Central Africa Region.
- Framework for the harmonization/coherence of fish trade policies in central Africa Region.
- Assessment of the Impact of International Fish trade flows in Africa.
- Value chain analysis of fish products in west African Corridor and Implication for the Intra Regional Trade in fish and fish products.
- Value chain analysis of fish products in central African Corridor and Implication for the Intra Regional Trade in fish and fish products.
- Value chain analysis of fish products in East African Corridor and Implication for the Intra Regional Trade in fish and fish products.
- Value chain analysis of fish products in Southern African Corridor and Implication for the Intra Regional Trade in fish and fish products.
- Determinants of Fish Trade Flows and the Benefits of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa.
- Key Policy Issues in Fish Products Trade in Africa: West And Central Regions Model for forecasting future demand and supply trends for fisheries products in Africa.
- Model for forecasting future demand and supply trends for fisheries products in Africa Key Policy Issues in Fish Products Trade in Africa: West And Central Regions.
Working Group Sessions
Two sessions of group works were undertaken. Five regional groups were formed to discuss and address the following themes and questions.
- GROUP SESSION 1: Identification of regional policy intervention entry point and development of Plans of Action for enhancing regional fish trade in Africa.
- GROUP SESSION 2: Discuss proposed framework for harmonization of Fish trade policies at national and regional levels and agree on the most appropriate workable elements of the framework.
Outcomes of the Meeting
The workshop achieved the following outcomes
- Lessons and best practices shared for strengthening inter and intra-regional fish trade in Africa.
- Priority actions identified for strengthening inter and intra-regional fish trade in the continent.
- Priority entry points for harmonization of intra-regional fish trade policies identified.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In concluding the proceedings, participants made and adopted the following recommendations within the framework of the objectives and expected outcome of the meeting:
- There is a need to support efforts made by the RECs' in aligning their regional, national policies and trade regulations with the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS).
- The contents of various consultancy studies should be updated with current available information from various sources, including member states, regional institutions and all relevant stakeholders.
- The meeting in recognition of existing trade related protocols or agreements as opportunities for enhancing intraregional fish trade noted the challenges faced by African Union member states in their implementation; recommended in-depth review of the level of implementation of existing fish trade related frameworks and urged member states to ratify and implement the existing frameworks, agreement and protocols.
- Develop a mechanism that would contribute to the dissemination of the existing regional/national policy & trade laws and regulations combined with awareness campaign and education.
- Develop a strategy to monitor and support the implementation and enforcement of the fish trade related agreements mainly through education and awareness creation.
- The African Union Member States should protect the local fisheries and aquaculture industry by implementation of relevant provisions of regional and global trade related instruments including those of the WTO and PFRS.
- There is a need to consolidate value chain assessments reports into one continental report (including socio-economic valuation) and identify segments along the value chain to upgrade or develop new quality products and enhance products competitiveness.
- The potential of One Stop Border Post should be capitalized upon in different regions to facilitate intra-regional fish trade as well as increase awareness among traders and relevant stakeholders on cross-border trade procedures.
- To promote implementation of common standards, harmonization of regional guidelines for harmonization of national laws and regulations with regards to fish trade.
- There is a need to strengthen the implementation of harmonized customs and tariff schemes and ensure inclusion of fish in customs list.
- Establish regional and sub-regional Fish Trade Information System (Fish Trade Portals) and strengthening of existing institutions such as INFOPECHE /INFOSA, INFOSAMARK and EFMIS...etc.
- Develop mechanisms for data collection and information on trade in fish and fisheries products.
- Strengthen human and institutional awareness and capacity in fish quality assurance, business skills, best handling practices, lesson learning.
- Support the establishment of infrastructure and facilities at the landing site particularly for the small scale fisheries to enhance data collection on fish trade and sensitize fishers on benefits of using the landing site.
- Identify modalities need on how to formalize informal trade and support informal traders to enter the formal trade market (value of the informal sector, losses of revenues, sensitization,) and create incentives to facilitate transition from informal to formal sector.
- Analyze the driving factors behind informal trade and put in place mechanism to eliminate factors that drive informal trade in order to create an environment and incentives for traders to formalize their activities.
- Disseminate of best practices and lesson learning in fish trade.
- Identify trade routes at continental level mainly through consolidation and merging of the reports of the four corridor analyses.