Exporters tasked to explore continent-wide market

The Deputy-Trade and Industry Minister, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, has charged Ghanaian exporters to play the lead role in ensuring that the country gains maximally from the proposed Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the continent-wide trade protocol.

According to him, as local exporters make inroads into the ECOWAS and other sub-regional markets, the same cannot be said of the rest of Africa; and he believes that the AfCFTA offers an appropriate platform for that course.

“As we make inroads into the ECOWAS and other markets outside the sub-region, it is sad to learn that Ghana’s trade with the rest of Africa is very minimal.

“With the increase in production volumes by our exporters, it is imperative that we [exporters] go beyond the ECOWAS market to the bigger AU market; this is why the AfCFTA comes in at an opportune time,” he told the export community at the 78th National Exporters’ Forum in Accra.

He added: “As a country, we need to position ourselves well to gain maximum leverage from this protocol, and exporters will play the lead role”.

Mr. Ahenkorah also said the exports development and diversification component of government’s industrialisation agenda requires a clear strategy for exports, focusing more on new export markets for an expanded range of products.

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents to African businesses a single market of 1.27 billion consumers, enhanced opportunities for joint ventures with foreign companies looking for reliable African partners, and increased business-efficiency through tariff liberalisation and removal of non-tariff trade barriers.

The new competition to be introduced by the market is also expected to instigate opportunities for innovation and differentiation of goods and services, as well as value addition on products manufactured within the region, etc.

Mr. Ahenkorah said government is currently developing a comprehensive, project-based export diversification action plan based on the National Export Strategy, and also restructuring the operations of GEPA to facilitate export diversification.

This, he said, will position GEPA to take advantage of trade deals such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and general intra-Africa trade.

Total revenue from non-traditional exports to the ECOWAS region alone in 2017 was valued at US$617million, commanding 24.14 percent of the total NTEs’ earnings for the year.

NTEs to the remaining African countries registered US$45.8million – contributing 1.79 percent of the total value.

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