Web portals and publications by CTA and partners have provided detailed analyses and information regarding issues affecting ACP agricultural trade. Access to this material has informed and empowered ACP countries in their trade negotiations and strengthened domestic and regional value chains.
To support ACP efforts to develop their trade policies and negotiate effectively in international fora, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), CTA launched the Agritrade web portal in 2001. Providing up-to-date information and in-depth analyses of ACP agricultural and fisheries trade issues, the portal provided essential ‘go-to’ reading for ACP policymakers, trade experts, farmers’ organisations and the private sector. For example, in December 2005, Agritrade played a critical role during preparation for and reporting on the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong by providing analytical documents on agricultural trade negotiation challenges for the ACP Group of States. “The information provided kept us constantly aware of developments as they were unfolding in the WTO preparations and more importantly on key issues of interest to Africa,” stated Dr Cornelius Mwalwanda, from the Economic Commission for Africa.
Following the 2007-2008 global food crisis, and with increasing demand from ACP countries for high-quality, trusted trade policy information available in English and French, the portal was supported with the development of an annual Agritrade Compendium (in print and on CD-ROM) and regular e-newsletters. The ACP Secretariat and ACP embassies in Brussels and Geneva were among the regular Agritrade website visitors, who used the policy briefs for the preparation of technical meetings. For example, the Namibian Trade Forum reported using Agritrade materials to train new staff on key agricultural trade issues.
“Once CTA picks up on a critical topic, it really puts its weight behind it.” Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
New opportunities for improving trade
To emphasise the importance of domestic and regional trade within ACP regions, CTA was a driving force behind a major international conference on transforming value chains for smallholder agriculture held in Ethiopia in 2012. The event also raised awareness of the importance of ICTs in developing more effective value chains. With support from CTA, the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) developed a reference manual, Structured Grain Trading Systems in Africa, to improve the grain trade in Eastern Africa. “This has been a valued piece of work,” stated Gerald Masila, EAGC Director. “It gives a full picture of how to structure grain trade in Africa with a clear description of market tools and institutions.” Used by the EAGC to train farmers, traders, millers and bankers, the manual was also used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Food Programme to train operational staff.
In recent years, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has partnered with CTA on a number of critical food and trade issues, including in the production of the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor published in 2018 and 2019. This flagship publication assesses the emerging and long-term trends and drivers behind Africa’s regional and global trade in agricultural products. “CTA has been a very valuable partner to us, helping build a bridge not just to Europe, but also globally, particularly in Africa. The joint publication of this report is the culmination of our relationship with CTA over the last 5-7 years,” emphasises Ousmane Badiane, Director for Africa at IFPRI.