The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) is the best instrument and one of Africa’s best decisions to shoot up trade volumes, particularly among African countries in the subregion, Country Director of the World Bank, Pierre Frank Laporte, has expressed.
“Africa has an excellent opportunity, because today when we look at intra-country trade within Africa, I understand it is less than 25%. So yes, we may not be able to fight the big guns out there, but we can create opportunities for ourselves by promoting more trade within the subregion; and I think having this free trade agreement in place is the best instrument and one of the best decisions that Africa could have made in a long time.”
He made the remarks when he paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Parliament and leadership of the House.
He further congratulated Ghana for having the opportunity to host the headquarters of AFCTA, indicating that his outfit is currently in talks with the Ministries of Finance and Trade on the what Bank could support with the setting-up of the institution in the country
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a single market Duty-free Quota-free trading bloc, covering the entire African Continent with a total population of about 1.2 billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost US$3trillion.
The operational phase of the Agreement was formally launched on 7th July 2019 at the African Union Summit in Niamey, Niger, with Ghana hosting the AfCFTA Secretariat.
On his part, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, commended the World Bank for its continuous support for good governance over the years.
He however advised that the Bank support government’s ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda in ways that allow the country to be free from dependency due to certain restrictions and conditionalities which institutions like the World Bank and the IMF present to the country.
The Speaker noted: “As much as we continue to develop the relationship further, we are looking to Ghana beyond aid: not an aid only in the technical terms, but an aid that is dependency prone – one that will enable us to stand on our own feet without being dependent on others.
“I urge that you use every good office of yours and allied organisations to help review the world economic order issue by way of not deepening the dependency syndrome, but to encourage an economic relationship that empowers so that we can compete favourably on the world market, starting locally with our infant industries.
“That is what our president conceptualizes when he talks about a Ghana beyond aid – a partnership that is mutually beneficial, and not one that continues to perpetuate our old economic world order. Therefore, let us help each other to develop that new paradigm, then we will say we are partners in the real sense of that work.”
The 2018 edition of the African Export-Import Bank’s annual flagship report—the African Trade Report, has established that the scope of intra African trade stood at 15 percent; comparing unfavourably with Europe (67 percent), Asia (58 percent), North America (48 percent) and Latin America (20 percent).
The AfCTA w establishes a single continental market for goods and service, and seeks to increase intra-African trade by cutting tariffs by 90 percent – and if successful, is expected to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by 2022.