Hammamet, Tunisia – The Specialized Technical Group (STG) on External Sector convened its first meeting of 2023 from 14th to 16th April 2023 in Hammamet, Tunisia. Representatives from African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities, Pan-African and Regional Organizations, as well as International Organizations were in attendance to discuss critical issues on the external sector.
The meeting focused on various objectives, including validating the 2022 African Trade Statistics Yearbook and agreeing on the next data transmission protocol of the African Union. Participants also reviewed the current version of the Trade Data Tools and exchanged experiences on Informal Cross Border Trade. They discussed the elaboration of the African Methodology on Customs Procedures and Types of Trade, and the current revision of the Balance of Payments Manual.
Presentations were made and discussed on a wide range of topics, including the Draft 2022 African Yearbook on Trade Statistics, the roadmap for the production of the 2023African Trade Statistics Yearbook, and the new data transmission protocol of STATAFRIC. The group also reviewed the guidance notes for the revision of the 2010 IMTS and MSITS Methodology, trade data tools, and the African methodology on the allocation of types of trade to customs procedures.
After extensive discussions, the STG made the following recommendations for the next steps:
• Fast-track the finalization of the 2022 Trade Statistics Yearbook and make the AFRICATRADE Database available online for users.
• Request African Union Member States to submit their monthly trade data to the African Union Commission (AUC) for the compilation of the African Trade Yearbook and updating AFRICATRADE.
• Adopt the new data transmission protocol and request African Union Member States to use it to provide trade data to the AUC.
• Organize regular webinars to get inputs from African Union Member States during global consultations for the guidance notes on the revision of 2010 IMTS and 2010 MSITS Methodologies.
• Set up sub-groups to discuss specific issues such as Informal Cross Border Trade, Digital Trade, Invoice Valuation, and Statistical Procedure Codes.
• Update and finalize the African Methodology on Informal Cross Border Trade in collaboration with UNSD and with the support of the PAS II Service Contract.
• Set up a Subgroup composed of STATAFRIC, UNECA, AfDB, RECs, and advanced users of trade statistics tools to contribute to the development of Trade Data Tools.
• Organize training/workshops on EUROTRACE for African countries.
• Finalize the African Methodology on the allocation of types of trade to customs procedures.
• Revitalize the component of “Trade in Services” “Balance of Payments” and “Business Registers” of the STG-ES and involve the experts on Trade in Services and Balance of Payments in future meetings of STG-ES.
The STG-ES meeting provided a platform for African Union Member States to discuss critical issues affecting the external sector. The agreed-upon recommendations will contribute significantly to enhancing the production of trade statistics and strengthening the external sector in Africa.