Sunday, 1 September 2019

Gov’t and businesses preparing hurriedly for the Continental Free Trade


 



Adnan Adams Mohammed

As pressure begins building up to commence the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) headquartered in Accra, the Ghanaian government and businesses are hurriedly preparing to take full advantage of this free trade.  

The government has disclosed that, it is developing a National Programme of Action (NPA), which is to be ready within the next three months.

The National Programme of Action will form the basis for implementation of AfCFTA as there will be timelines associated with each set of activity. This will come with a national coordinating office that would plan, direct and coordinate all the AfCFTA implementation activities in the country.

"We need to go to all regions for example, to get a sense of their own understanding of the AfCFTA and what the expectations they have from government to help them to be able to take advantage of this. So we will do a series of consultations around the country," the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen disclosed when speaking at the closing ceremony of the three-day national conference in Accra.

In this direction, Ghanaian businesses have been told to take advantage of the Free Continental Free Trade.

“This is one of the best things to happen to the continent of Africa and we are excited and keen to have it. To think about a creation of a market  size of 1.2 billion in terms of population and 2.5 trillion in terms of its value, then we have to be excited and brace ourselves up for it”, The President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association(GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng has said.

GUTA described the AFCFTA as one of the best things to ever happen to Africa on an Eye on Port panel discussion live on national television, and urged Ghanaian traders to begin to strategize towards creating a strong supply chain for the rest of Africa.

“In the supply chain, we do not only want to position ourselves at the receiving end only. If we are talking about 1.2 billion people, we should think about how we can strategize to supply to this chunk. We have to establish brands, because now we are looking within Africa to provide alternative goods,” Mr Obeng said.

GUTA defined the ‘no duty’ element in trade within the African space of the AFCFTA as the most pleasant to traders, as they have persistently cried about the burden of duty charges.

“There’s not going to be a barrier of duties; something we have been crying about. If we are able to get the same goods here without paying duties, for the same price which otherwise we have been paying huge duties for, then of course everybody would be excited,” he praised.

Dr. Joseph Obeng urged Ghana's government to focus on the development of the production of goods that have high yielding potential for the country, because that would attract business with other countries, more effectively. “We should know as a country where we have our competitive advantage, like cocoa. With the coming of the AfCFTA, let us dwell on the areas like this to invest in,” he entreated.

He bemoaned of the unavailability of a clear cut law within the protocol, that curbed the problem of migration as opposed to trade, which according to him, has been a challenge which Ghanaian traders are facing and asked for its immediate addressing.

“We should be clear. If we are looking for a commonwealth, by trade, we should do that, but if we are looking to fuse everybody as a whole like the United States, then we should be clear on that,” he lamented.

Also, some recommendations made at the end of the 3-day conference to boost intra-Africa were read to participants which include the need to promote maritime transport.

"For us to be effective in trade, there is the need for us to look into trade-related infrastructure. And on, trade related infrastructure, there is the need to promote maritime transport, there is the need for the reduction in the cost of air transport, the need to enhance air transport connectivity among African states and the need to enhance railway connectivity across Africa, Joseph Atta-Mensah, the Principal Policy Advisor, Macroeconomics and Governance Division of UNECA opined.


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