A successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) next year will help stimulate businesses and usher in a strong economic recovery post-Covid, Patrick Yaw Nimo, Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has said.
As the global economy is in turmoil due to the Covid-19 pandemic, creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment, he added.
Speaking at the opening of the first Meeting of the Committee on Trade in Goods and the Subcommittee on Trade Facilitation, Customs Cooperation and Transit, being organised by the AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr. Nimo said Ghana is now ready to start trading under the AfCFTA on 1 January, 2021.
“A high-level inter-ministerial committee has been established, supported by a steering committee, technical working groups in line with the Seven Clusters under the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade, and a National AfCFTA Coordination Office, to oversee the national action plans that have been developed,” he said.
He added that economic operators are ready to explore trade and investment opportunities under the AfCFTA, and various government interventions, such as the One-District-One-Factory (1D1F) programme and credit facilities for SMEs, are aimed at boosting the capacity of Ghanaian businesses and entrepreneurs to produce and benefit from the AfCFTA.
AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people in a $2.5tn economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The main objectives of the agreement are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a customs union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.
On his part, Mr. Fechin Akoto, the head of AfCFTA Affairs at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), said the meeting was intended to explore the readiness of member countries as well as fashion out strategies for the AfCFTA’s operationalisation.
The series of meetings to prepare for commencement of trade is in line with the objectives of ensuring that all member countries put in place the necessary mechanisms to be able to trade from January 2021.
AfCFTA is said to present a major opportunity for African countries to bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and to raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than US$5.5 per day.
It is estimated that trade facilitation measures that cut red tape and simplify customs procedures would drive US$292bn of the US$450bn in potential income gains from the agreement.