The National Africa continental free trade Area ( AfCFTA) coordination office on Friday, 18th August, 2023 organized a regional conference on the implementation of the National policy framework and Action plan of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement ( AfCFTA) at Damongo in the Savannah Region.
The objective of the consultative session is to create awareness on the National AfCFTA policy Framework and Action plan for boosting Ghana’s Trade with Africa at the regional level and to inform stakeholders and the business community on institutional arrangements for the implementation of AfCFTA in Ghana and the processes and procedures for trading under the AfCFTA.
In a welcome remarks, the savannah regional Minister, Hon. Saeed Muhazu Jibriel explained that AfCFTA is a great initiative which is capable of changing the whole landscape of trade and prosperity for Ghana and Africa.
He noted that beyond the establishment of AfCFTA, the policy framework and Action Plan have been developed for it’s implementation, an indication of how serious the government of Ghana has taken the programme and therefore urging all stakeholders in the savannah region take advantage of the initiative which other regions and countries are taking advantage of.
He also used the event to encourage small and medium scale enterprises to harness the potentials to inch up into Agro processing and value addition not only for domestic consumption, but also to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Africa continental free trade Area to export to other African countries and quota free Ecowas regions.
He further appealed to the stakeholders to deliberate on the issues with a strategic focus on coming up with actionable recommendations that derive the development of micro scale and medium enterprises across the savannah region taking into consideration the natural endowments.
Giving the background and rationale behind the creation of the Africa continental free trade Area ( AfCFTA) in an opening address, the senior advisor incharge of M&E at the National AfCFTA coordination office, Alhaji Yakubu Yussif explained that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a major milestone in Africa’s economic integration aiming to create a single market across the continent for goods and services, envisioned since the 1991 Abuja Declaration.
He also stated that AfCFTA was formally endorsed by the AU Summit in 2012 and concluded its first phase of negotiations in 2018 with a population of 1.3 billion and a combined GDP of almost USD 3.4 trillion.
According to Alhaji Yakubu Yussif, AfCFTA has become the world’s largest Free Trade Area with member states of 54 with the objective to facilitate free movement of goods, people, and investments, marking a significant development since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
He explained that the AfCFTA agreement became effective on May 30th, 2019, once 22 countries had submitted their ratification documents to the African Union Commission (AUC). The initial deposit of ratification instruments came from Ghana and Kenya.
He added that by July 2022, 54 out of the 55 African nations had endorsed the AfCFTA, with 44 of them formally ratifying the agreement. Among these, 43 countries had gone on to deposit their Instruments of Ratification.
Alhaji Yakubu Yussif also stated that the Agreement’s provisions mandated State Parties to progressively remove trade barriers from 90% of tariff lines associated with the AfCFTA within a span of 5 to 10 years, adding that the agreement also accounted for special considerations towards Least Developed Countries (LDCs), offering them extended implementation periods.
He however noted that, to ensure consistency in external tariffs, both LDCs and non-LDCs within the same customs union were required to adhere to matching implementation timeframes.
Mr. Divine Kutorste, the program officer responsible for enterprise support, emphasized that harnessing the benefits of AfCFTA requires intentional effort, despite Ghana’s role as the headquarters of the secretariat and by setting a leading example, Ghana has initiated the Market Expansion Project which is aimed to evaluate the export readiness of select Ghanaian companies, enabling them to make the most of AfCFTA’s opportunities, endeavored and designed to extend beyond its current scope seeking to include more enterprises over time.
Mr. Divine further revealed that their collaboration with nearly 300 audited companies who are assessing their export and market readiness for AfCFTA have received comprehensive support, encompassing financial assistance, capacity building, and access to necessary equipment.
He added that their collaboration extends across various ministries, as AfCFTA’s intricate nature necessitates a coordinated approach, connecting businesses with the pertinent agencies for the required support.
Highlighting the importance of the Market Expedition Program, Mr. Divine underlined AfCFTA’s role in providing market access and empowered companies to explore new markets and expand their reach.
He Noted that, 63 companies participated in an exhibition in Kenya, marking the first step to entering the Kenyan market with plans to expand to Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, and other African nations.
He explained that this strategic expansion aims to offer fresh avenues for businesses under AfCFTA to capitalize on new market opportunities.
Source: Padfm.com.gh/Kumatey Gorden/0243531604