African Union’s Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals Albert M. Muchanga has advocated the propelling of African single market to higher levels to compete favourably with countries like India and China.
“We have to make the AfCFTA work. The expectations are high, the potential is great, and a lot of modalities are largely in place. There is a 7.7 per cent agreement on rules of origin and that is a base to start trading. There is also a dispute settlement mechanism in place in case there are disputes among traders.”
Mr Muchanga, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the 6th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference -GITFiC2022 held in Accra, said: “When we bring this to Africa, the AfCFTA has a vision of creating a single African market. For the same reason, open up large economies of scale. Right now, for some reason, developed regional and continental supply chains facilitate collective self-reliance around the world. So the message is very clear.”
On India and China, he said: “I will begin by saying that in the past weeks, two related pieces of news came out of India and China. India announced that it was going to create a single national market out of the currently fragmented regional market and this is due to the desire to create new large economies of scale and make the economy more competitive and also develop national supply chains.
“In response to what is going on around the world, the economic magazine, during the past weeks, came out with projections for the Indian economy and they projected that currently, India is the tenth largest economy in the world. By 2027, which is five years from now, it is going to be the fifth largest economy in the world with a GDP of 5 trillion USD. That was the news that came from India.”
He said there was also an announcement that China was going to create a single national market out of the current fragmented regional market and the desire was to ensure that it attained strategic autonomy as a result of developments around the world.
Mr Muchanga said there was a commercial launch of the PAPSS in Ghana at the headquarters of AfCFTA in January this year and at the level of the African Union Commission, it also created the African Trade Observatory to give a variety of trade information such as trade in statistics country by country, authorize economic operators across the country that would give information on imports and export opportunities in every African country.
He promised to share with Mr Selasi Koffi Ackom, Chief Executive Officer of GITFiC, the webpage and address of the African Trade Observatory as well as the videos which showed what it was supposed to do.
“We have not yet completed the work however, in the next three years, it should be fully operational and you can make use of it. We are teaming up with the organisation for economic cooperation and development ECD to create the African Investment Observatory. It is going to have a minimum of 10 to 20 countries that are investment ready and that is going to enable Africa to attract investment from the rest of the world.”
He said there had been a lot of complaints about a loss in momentum in implementation and questioned what the private sector had done about it.
“How many of you in the private sector have started work to establish warehouses and distribution centers across Africa in readiness for the start of trading? I challenge you to answer that question. How many of you in the private sector have gone to the Ministers of Trade, Commerce, and Industry in Africa, and Ministries of Finance in Africa to say, we would like the customs authority to start producing trade in documents based on agreed rules of origin so that we start trading.”
The Commissioner said there was the need to engage the national capitals as a collective chamber of commerce or single private sector entity.
“At the level of the African Union, we see the private sector as our friend. We encouraged the Mining Chambers of Commerce across Africa to create a pan-African Association of Mining which is working. We encourage manufacturers across Africa to create an Association of Manufacturers of Africa and it is working. We also encouraged the private sector to come up with an umbrella body, the African Business Council with the President based in Cairo, Egypt.”
Against that background, he said they were ready for engagements with each playing active and advocacy roles anytime.
“If you see that there is an element of slackening in your national capitals, we live in democracies, you are not going to be arrested, challenge the ministers. Tell them the right thing to do for the good of employment generations.
“We are there as the African Union Commission to support you fully and we expect you to engage us no matter how difficult the issue is. If you see that we are not doing well, feel free to engage us.”