The Third Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Trade was held in Cairo, Egypt from 8 to 9 June 2005. A Meeting of Experts from 5 to 7 June 2005 preceded the Ministerial Meeting. This conference was taking place against the backdrop of a number of important events that will take place this year, that are of significant importance to Africa. These
include the review of the Millennium Developments Goals (MDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly programmed to take place in September 2005, the Summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) which takes place in Gleneagles, Scotland in July 2005; and the Sixth Session of the WTO Conference scheduled for Hong Kong (China) in December of this year. Accordingly, the Conference in Cairo was taking place at a critical juncture and it was in this context that deliberations focused on a number of key issues that will feed into the subsequent meetings and conferences.
The agenda for the Meeting of Experts included review of progress in intra-African trade; state of play in the WTO Negotiations and preparations for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong; cotton initiative; report on the implementation of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in the Field of Trade and Investment; Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) negotiations; report on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); TICAD III Africa-Asia Follow-up Conference, Tokyo, November 2004; trade and investment in Africa; and cooperation mechanism between Chinese Federation of Chambers of Commerce and African Union Federation of Chambers of Commerce.
The Ministerial Conference held form 8 to 9 June 2005, considered the Report of Experts and the recommendations contained therein; adopted the Cairo Declaration and Cairo Roadmap; and also held a Special Session on "Trade Liberalization, World Integration: A Better Future for Africa". During this Special Session, Ministers had the opportunity to exchange views with a number of personalities, including Mr. Peter Mandelson, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Foreign Trade; and Mr. Peter Allgeir, Deputy Trade Representative of the United States of America.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) participated and contributed substantively to these meetings. Mr. Stephen Karingi of the Trade and Regional Integration Division (TRID) presented at the Experts Meeting a study of ECA on the "Welfare Impact of Trade Liberalization and the Economic Partnership Agreements". Mr. Abdoulahi Mahamat also of TRID presented paper on "Intra-African Trade". Furthermore, Dr. Hakim Ben Hammouda, Director of Trade and Regional Integration Division and Dr. Cornelius T. Mwalwanda, Principal Advisor of the ECA Geneva Interregional Advisory Services, delivered opening statements on behalf of ECA at the Meeting of Experts and the Ministerial Conference, respectively.