Story: Rueben SACKEY
The success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) requires a collaborative effort from institutions that have been tasked to see to the fruition of the initiative, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Herbert Krapa has said.
Reiterating that an increase in trade was the surest way to deepen regional integration in Africa, Mr. Krapa, delivering a speech to open a National AfCFTA Stakeholder Forum in Ho, last week Wednesday, said the government of Ghana in its desire to ensure the success of the initiative has “established an institutional framework made up of an inter-ministerial facilitation committee at the apex, the national AfCFTA steering committee, the national AfCFTA coordination office and seven technical working groups in key thematic areas for boosting intra African trade.”
The deputy minister tasked the various stakeholder agencies and institutions to have “a common and shared AfCFTA approach to avoid duplication and waste”.
The African Union treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area was signed by African Union Heads of State on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Trading under the AfCFTA that was originally planned for 1 July, 2020 but delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It, however, begun in January 2021. On August 17, 2020, President Akufo-Addo handed over the Secretariat to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at a ceremony in Accra.
Taking into consideration the fact that the commencement has delayed, Mr. Krapa mentioned that “we cannot waste any more time than we have lost already. When we leave Ho, I expect us to head back to Accra with a plan for an effective institutional collaboration with the enabling environment necessary to enhance a full-blown private sector participation”.
He stressed that because Ghana plays host to the AfCFTA Secretariat, it is important the country takes the lead role in the AfCFTA implementation and “we can only achieve this when all trade stakeholder institutions in the country collaborate effectively”.
AfCFTA creates a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. It aims at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations. It emphasizes the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and the facilitation of free movement of people and labor, right of residence, right of establishment, and investment.
The 2-day AfCFTA Stakeholder Forum, organised by the National AfCFTA Coordination Office seeks to bring all stakeholders in trade to appreciate the role of AfCFTA and its implementation for inclusive growth and harmonise the action plans of all agencies and institutions of trade in the country.
Stakeholders participating in the forum include; Ghana Standard Authority, Ghana Association of Bankers, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce, Ghana International Trade Commission, Ghana Shippers Authority, Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate, National Communications Authority, among others.