Trade Minister-designate Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen has reiterated that government has put in place robust plans to ensure local firms are adequately prepared to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) so as to bring gains to the economy.
Taking his turn on the Parliamentary Appointments Committee vetting of ministers for the second term of the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration, Mr. Kyerematen, when asked about Ghana’s readiness for the continental trade pact, said government has set up a national office specially designed to provide support for businesses that are ready to leverage the opportunity provided by the market.
“With the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we have established a national office that is currently implementing a national programme of action specifically targeting companies that can produce competitively for the export market, particularly for Africa. These programme interventions are supposed to cover a variety of areas.
One is enhancing productive capacities; second is ensuring that there is access to affordable credit; the other is also identifying specific market information about opportunities in different countries; and another one relates to ensuring that we provide technical assistance for quality and standards. We are also supporting them in terms of human resource capacity building.
We have a programme that is targeting companies that are already exporting to Africa to enhance their current level of production. There are others that are not exporting to Africa but exporting to other parts of the world, so we are guiding them to identify opportunities on the African continent,” he said.
The minister-designate was also asked about his view on what advantage the appointment of an African as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the first time may have on the continental free trade agreement, especially, considering the fact that Africa’s share of global trade has not been impressive.
Mr. Kyerematen, in answer, said the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General should remind the continent of the need to use the AfCFTA platform to deepen global trade participation.
“The main objective of the WTO is to expand the frontiers of free trade and, to a large extent, that is the objective of the AfCFTA – to expand the frontiers of free trade in Africa by liberalising tariffs and then also ensuring the free flow of goods and services. So we are working towards the same objective.
And in that regard, having an African as the Director-General of the WTO provides an opportunity for us in Africa, in the sense that, while we embark on this major initiative of liberalising trade between ourselves, we have to use our collaboration between ourselves as a launching pad to enhance our participation in the global market. So basically, if we can deepen our trade under AfCFTA among ourselves, that will become a launching pad for us to increase our share in global trade,” he said.
The AfCFTA trade pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP valued at US$3.4 trillion. According to the World bank, AfCFTA would significantly boost African trade, particularly intraregional trade in manufacturing. The volume of total exports is expected to increase by almost 29 percent by 2035 relative to the baseline. Intracontinental exports would also increase by over 81 percent, while exports to non-African countries would rise by 19 percent.