- Tout Ghana’s readiness
Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen has cleared the air over concerns expressed by some businesses that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create unfair competition for, especially, smaller economies on the continent, saying countries have been given the option to exclude certain products from the deal.
Some smaller business in the country have expressed concerns over the agreement which is set to take effect January 2021, saying there is the high possibility of ‘dumping’ from other countries which will create unfair competition for them, and eventually making Ghana lose out on the benefits of this trade deal.
However, speaking at an event in Accra themed: ‘Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to Harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Under the Framework of the National Export Development Strategy’, Mr. Kyerematen said the policy framework governing the trade deal has put in place measures which allows countries to exclude some products they consider sensitive enough to affect the growth of their economies from the free tariffs under the AfCFTA agreement.
“In deciding on the categories of products that will be traded in the AfCFTA, the basic and fundamental principle is that countries are given the opportunity to identify certain categories of goods that will be described as sensitive and certain categories that will be described as exclusive goods. It means that based on the vulnerabilities associated with particular products in a particular country, you can exclude that category of products.
For every country, you are allowed to designate 3 percent of your tradable goods as exclusive goods and for 7 percent of the goods that you trade, you are allowed to categorise them as sensitive goods; which means that you can only liberalise or reduce or eliminate the tariffs on those goods over a certain period of time.
In addition to that, as part of the framework agreement of the AfCFTA, there are various specific safeguards that are reflected in the agreement which allows countries to protect themselves against unfair competition in certain goods that will be traded,” he said, assuring that sanctions will be applied to member countries which go against the rules of the game; hence, no country will experience unfair trade practices.
Ghana is ready for AfCFTA
The Trade Minister further stated that the country has put in the needed structures and programmes to ensure that businesses in the country are given the necessary support to remain competitive in this trade agreement.
“I say we are ready on two grounds. First, we have introduced institutional frameworks that makes us ready and I believe you recall that the President has introduced an inter-ministerial facilitation team made up of critical-sector ministers who are supposed to provide strategic guidance and support to make Ghana ready for the AfCFTA. There is national steering committee that is coordinating and guiding the support that will be given to the private companies and other stakeholders,” he said.
In addition, he said, seven technical working groups have also been established to examine details required to make sure that the policy is supportive and provides assistance to the benefit of private companies in the country.
Also commenting at the event, Chief Executive Officer of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu called on manufacturers to be more innovative and concentrate on adding value to the country’s raw material base in order for the economy to realise the gains from the trade pact.
The Secretary General of Trade Union Congress (TUC) Dr. Anthony Yaw, lauded African governments for introducing this agreement. He encouraged collaboration between key stakeholders to ensure that Ghana benefits fully from the implementation of the AfCTA. The AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in US$2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization across the continent.