Carlos Kinsley Ahenkorah, Deputy Ministry for Trade and Industry, has said government is working toward updating its trade laws as part of measures to ensure that Ghana fully harnesses gains from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
According to Mr. Ahenkorah, who is also Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, the upgrade of these laws – including the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) bill and the Ghana National Quality Policy which are currently in Parliament – will remove all barriers in the industry and help boost trade.
“The Ministry of Trade, by extension the Ghana Standards Authority, has brought a request to parliament in the form of a new bill for us to consider and reshape the GSA’s guidelines to augment the trading capability of Ghanaian products that are going to compete in the AfCFTA. Ghana is nearing the end-process of getting new modern, fit-for-purpose legislation to give necessary legislative powers to the Ghana Standards Authority.
“As the main free-facilitation statutory body in Ghana, parliament aims to give the GSA legislative backing which will be future-proof and also provide for the needed financial and human resources to enable it undertake this critical role in Ghana. In addition, I am also happy to inform you that the Ghana National Quality Policy is being finalised and will be approved shortly,” he said.
He was speaking at the 65th Council Meeting of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) under the theme ‘The beginning of trade among the African countries under the AfCFTA: Boosting intra-African trade within the African single market through one standard-one test-one certificate-accepted everywhere’, held at the Alisa Hotel, Accra.
He however noted that Africa cannot take full advantage of AfCFTA until it updates and aligns its policies in the interest of AfCFTA.
“Until we synchronise or align our standard policies, it will always be impossible for us to trade together. Once our quality policy is in line with the Pan-African Policy, and once we use African standards, we automatically reduce several barriers in trade and improve the way of doing business on the continent; and this will improve Africa’s industry and trade work,” he noted.
Stressing the importance of intra-African trade, he noted that poverty can be substantially eliminated if opportunities presented by the free trade agreement are properly leveraged.
“For us in Ghana, the AfCFTA is critical to Africans as a whole. We are a continent with youth potential, and we can lift our people out of poverty into prosperity by boosting intra-African trade. We want to trade among ourselves and increase wealth and prosperity among our people, this is a charge you cannot ignore. I’m very happy to note that ARSO is working hard to remove all barriers to intra-African trade, especially barriers relating to technical barriers to trading.”
On his part, Director-General of the Ghana Standards Authority – who doubles as the president-elect for ARSO, Alex Dodoo, emphasised that the organisation’s position on AfCFTA is non-negotiable.
“Just last week, the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) – which was actually formed in Accra – signed an agreement with the Secretary-General and secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to ensure issues on standards and other things will be managed and organised by the two organisations so that ARSO and AfCFTA will contribute to intra-African trade,” he said.
Mr. Dodoo urged members of ARSO to make a conscious effort to make the dreams of ARSO a reality, adding that: “If AfCFTA succeeds, ARSO will succeed; and if ARSAO succeeds, Africa will succeed. So, for ARSO, the success of AfCFTA is not negotiable”.