To ensure success for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), government must ensure foreigners that come to do business in the country venture into manufacturing to increase production for export, President of Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association (PIWA), William Adum Addo, has said.
According to him, a lot of local businesses do not have the capacity to go into manufacturing, hence they stick to trading. For that reason, allowing foreigners to also join the same trade will cripple the country from contributing greatly in AfCFTA.
Speaking with the Business and Financial Times, Mr. Addo indicated that the core business of local people is trade, hence allowing foreigners to also partake in it only creates competition but does not prepare the country for large exports.
“I am not against people coming into the country to do business, but here we are talking about manufacturing. So why don’t you ensure that those who come into the country channel their energy into manufacturing? And the same trading that you want to encourage people under is AfCFTA, which is about production.
“Therefore, if someone wants to come into your country for business, is it not appropriate that you encourage the person to go into manufacturing? Here we are not doing well with manufacturing and the trading too is being invaded by foreigners; why should we not encourage the foreigners to go into manufacturing?” he noted.
Mr. Addo explained that having the multinationals go into manufacturing will help in technology and knowledge-transfer to the local people, and that will encourage some locals to also do same.
He added that the country’s exposure to manufacturing is low, therefore taking advantage of the presence of foreigners and encouraging them to go for manufacturing will help the country – especially its participation in AfCFTA.
Also, on the economy, he stated that when foreigners are allowed to trade like the locals, they repatriate whatever they get without bringing in forex; but when they venture into manufacturing for export it will strengthen the economy.
He called on government to improve upon policies that will help drive the agenda and also ensure proper enforcement of the policies to achieve good results.
Speaking on the back of a recent publication by the B&FT about a survey conducted by Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) on the awareness of AfCFTA, he called for proper sensitisation of the trading community to fully harness potentials of the trade.
Mr. Addo indicated that the effort to educate and interact with the people to know their concerns and thoughts about AfCFTA have not been on the high, therefore certain shortfalls of the trade have still not been addressed after 18 months of its inception.
“I am not surprised though, because you only hear of them in the news; but as to bringing the business community onboard to sensitise them as to what it entails in the trade and the benefits of it, I do not think much has been done,” he said.
To properly benefit from the trade, he stated, the conversations should not be centred among the policy makers; saying that if the right things are not put in place, other countries will benefit more than Ghana.