In less than six months from now, the much – awaited Pan African trade regime – the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will kick start with an ambitious aim of increasing intra-African trade from the existing 12 percent to anticipated 52 percent of all international trade by African countries by 2022.
The initiative is expected to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Since Ghana is hosting the Secretariat of the agreement, the Government is preparing to soon commence crucial multi-stakeholder discussions with the private sector on various key adjustments needed to be instituted before implementation of the policy.
The discussions are expected to empower the private sector under the overall umbrella of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) and the business community consisting the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) among others in their quest to empower the private sector to harness opportunities in the AfCFTA when its implementation commences.
In effect therefore, the discussions will serve as a platform to devise key policy initiatives and strategies aimed at supporting the private sector.
Already, African Ministers of Trade and key stakeholders last month met in Accra during a Specialized Technical Committee (STC) meeting to finalize processes to be implemented in phase one roll out of the agreement, which include rules of origin, an online mechanism for monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers and AfCFTA mobile application for businesses, among others.
This indicates the extent of seriousness major key implementing partners and stakeholders have attached to the implementation of the policy.
This creates the urgent need for Ghana Government and the private sector to see AfCFTA as a critically important initiative since it is being regarded as a potential game changer in the African trading space by this country’s actual and potential trading partners all around the continent.
We believe that it is absolutely crucial that both Government and the private sector collaborate effectively by working in tandem in order to position Ghana’s private sector to optimally exploit opportunities in the AfCFTA with regards to economies of scale.
The Goldstreet Business believes that there are two major ways Ghana can gain from the AfCFTA – that is by having a robust private sector with the capacity to export more products within the continent as well as establishing ways of identifying African made goods of international quality which can be used to substitute more expensive versions Ghana imports from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
The latter is expected to benefit Ghana on the basis of price competitiveness. For instance, Nigeria’s business community can import greater proportion of chocolate from Ghana over chocolate from Belgium, implying same quality product, but cheaper price. It is also important to note that Nigeria market remains the biggest receiver of Ghana’s cocoa products including chocolate.
We also expect that Government takes keen interest during the discussions to look into a report released on November 2019 by the International Trade Center (ICT) on diversifying trade in Africa, which focuses on the need for African countries to develop a regional strategy due to the degree of overlap of sector priorities at the country and regional level.
According to the ITC, overlapping sector priorities could become a potential source of tensions during AfCFTA negotiations and thus it is imperative to institute key measures before implementation begins.