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Trade and Investment can play a critical role in transforming the lives of the most vulnerable groups in society namely women, youth and, people living with disabilities through fostering growth,

promoting industrialization and innovations, creating jobs and enhancing further regional and global economic integration. However, experiences especially in Africa have revealed that the absence of supportive and inclusive legal and policy frameworks for trade and investment can result into further marginalization of the poor and can lead to increased unemployment, poverty, macroeconomic instabilities and general under development.

These challenges were taken up at the multi-stakeholder conference hosted by the East African Community (EAC) and implemented by the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) in partnership with DIAKONIA and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Nairobi Kenya from the 29th to the 31st of May 2019. Various stakeholders and international partners that included leading civil society organisations in Africa, representatives from the World Bank, the academia and media were invited and discussed in-depth on the evolution of trade and investment agreements and their implications on the realization of the sustainable development goals.

Diakonia program manager, Ms. Sandra Kidwingira, who chaired one of the first debate session on said: ‘’It was so encouraging to see such a broad group of stakeholders come together to analyse the rapid changes in Africa’s Trade and Investment policy landscape. This is a step in the right direction because promoting trade and investment along sustainable principles is one of the means to achieve SDGs. What Africa needs is a more conducive institutional and policy environment that provides the right incentives for nations and institutions to cooperate thus building on their respective comparative advantages towards enhanced sustainability.”

Trade and investment are fundamental in helping countries in Africa to successfully integrate into the global economy, said AFRODAD’s Policy and Research Consultant under the International Public Finance portfolio – Mr Adrian Chikowore. “Both trade and investments have proven to be the most effective anti-poverty and pro-development tools for most African countries.”

Notable suggestions that came out of the discussions , among other things included, a commitment by partners to lobby for the strengthening of policy coherence for development, policy proposal in areas considered vital for achieving SDGs such as social inclusion, sustainable consumption and production, and for nations to create a more enabling environment for investments that would make African countries more attractive locations for productive and sustainable Foreign Direct Investment - both in infrastructure and in productive assets.