President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given firm assurance that Ghana is ready for operationalisation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from March 2020. According to him, offices of the AfCFTA are ready to host all officials of the Secretariat and the state is prepared to accord the needed support to ensure their operations succeed.
The president believes the move will greatly cushion the country’s efforts at improving its status on the ease of doing business ranking globally, as it further supports the country’s industrialisation agenda.
“We are paying greater attention to making Ghana an easy place to do business and set up industry,” he said in his fourth State of the Nation’s Address for the 4th session of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic.
The president also used the occasion to congratulate Wamkele Mene as the first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA. The 40-year-old South African has previously worked as Head of Mission to the World Trade Organisation for South Africa, and he was also South Africa’s Chief Negotiator in the African Continental Free Trade Area negotiations. “We extend our warm congratulations to the first Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, and assure him of our fullest cooperation to ensure he succeeds,” he told parliament.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a single-market duty-free, quota-free trading bloc covering the entire African continent with a total population of about 1.2billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost US$3trillion.
In a recent visit to parliament, Country Director of the World Bank, Pierre Frank Laporte, said AfCFTA is the best instrument and one of Africa’s best decisions to boost trade volumes between African countries.
“Africa has an excellent opportunity, because today when we look at intra-country trade within Africa, I understand it is less than 25 percent. So yes, we may not be able to fight the big guns out there, but we can create opportunities for ourselves by promoting more trade within the region; and I think having this free trade agreement in place is the best instrument and one of the best decisions that Africa could have made in a long time,” he expressed.
Africa’s total merchandise trade in 2018 was valued at approximately US$997.9billion, showing that the continent remains one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa’s output grew by 3.4 percent between 2017 and 2018, despite the slowdown in global growth during that period, the African Trade report 2019 has indicated.
The report noted that while the European Union remained Africa’s main continental trading partner in 2018 – accounting for 29.8 percent of total trade – African trade with the South grew significantly over the last decade to account for more than 35 percent of the continent’s total trade in 2018.
It is believed that these figures will balloon if African leaders put in the right measures to take advantage of the AfCFTA. This will mean a huge reduction in trade volumes with other continents.