AfCfTA: Awareness creation on benefit key – Trade Minister

The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative comes with benefits to African countries including and these benefits must be highlighted to the entire world, Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen has said.

The AfCFTA is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021.It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.

The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Accra, Ghana serves as the Secretariat of AfCFTA and was commissioned and handed over to the AU by the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo on August 17, 2020 in Accra.

The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.[16] The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.

The proposal was set to come into force 30 days after ratification by 22 of the signatory states. On April 2, 2019, The Gambia became the 22nd state to ratify the agreement, and on April 29 the Saharawi Republic made the 22nd deposit of instruments of ratification; the agreement went into force on May 30 and entered its operational phase following a summit on July 7, 2019.

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The general objectives of the agreement are to: create a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent, establish a liberalised market through multiple rounds of negotiations, aid the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment move towards the establishment of a future continental customs union, achieve sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development, gender equality and structural transformations within member states.

The rests are to enhance competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market, encourage industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security and resolve challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships.

Mr Kyerematen said “For Ghana to benefit from the initiative, there is an urgent need to create the awareness among regulatory authorities including the customers Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), economic operators, producers and exporters as well as the logistical sector.. These are the factors that will make the agreement work on the ground. If there is no awareness we cannot harvest its benefits.”

Regarding the rules of origin, he said “In addition we need to develop concrete ways to enable regulatory authorities and economic operators to interface with the system that are being established under this agreement to agree on the rules of origin, customs facilities and procures for export and import of goods.”

A Chief Revenue Officer at the Ghana Revenue Authority, Customs Division, Fechin Akoto who also spoke at the event said the GRA is almost done with rules of origin in connection with the AfCfTA.

“People keep talking of rules of origin that is what they want to hear about and they keep asking do we have enough rules of origin to trade with because they hear that we haven’t completed the rules of origin The fact of the matter is that Rules of origin takes a long time to negotiate. The rest that have been implementing rules of origin some have taken three years, eight years and haven’t completed but we have completed our negotiations to this state in about three years. And I can tell you that the agreed rules are 81% complete from analysis.

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“And when you analyze what ECOWAS has offered for trading with 90%, ECOWAS has close to 73% rules agreed on which we can use to trade with,” he stated

By Laud Nartey||Ghana


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