Experts laud introduction of the Guided Trade


Despite growing dissatisfaction over the seemingly inactive trading under the AfCFTA, the Guided Trade Initiative that has been introduced is expected to bring some change.

Seven party states under the AfCFTA will begin the Guided Trade Initiative to test all the negotiations, documents, policies and procedures which have been agreed on as far as the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is concerned.

The countries include Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius.

Speaking on the Eye on Port programme, Trade Consultant and Afcfta expert Dode Seidu stated the programmr will kick-start on October 7, and countries are currently readying their individual private sectors for active trading.

“I’m aware that in the background the respective counties have been having discussions to identify specific companies, specific goods and specific corridors which can trade bilaterally in an effort to test the process.”

He revealed that these 7 countries are those which have submitted their schedule of tariff concessions and have demonstrated advanced processes on the ground, rendering these countries relatively more prepared to trade under AfCFTA.

He said Ghana, for example, has gone a step ahead to establish a National AfCFTA coordination office and readied its Customs in terms of training and capacity, among other efforts.

He opined that the pilot programme is timely and opportune for significant trade to actually commence under the free trade agreement, while revealing lessons the wider continent can learn from.

He emphasised that authorities are only looking to facilitate the trade in goods that qualify under the acceptable rules of origin.

Mr. Dode Seidu said the Guided Trade Initiative is “the newest signal that African ministers of trade are really committed to seeing trade come to pass”.

Taking his turn on the subject, AfCFTA Strategist and Executive Director of the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN) Group, Louis Yaw Afful, expressed that trade efforts by party states collectively have been underwhelming – culminating in the low state of trading under the AfCFTA arrangement.

“Everybody is dragging their feet. One country will say its Customs management and administration is not ready. Some will say they haven’t gazetted their tariffs.”

He said due to the lacklustre approach some party states have taken, the AfCFTA secretariat felt a need to inject some impetus for the trade – leading to the Guided Trade Initiative.

He said like most new international protocols, there’s a need for certain “anchor countries” to take the bold step of leadership in order to advance common objectives.

He stated that he would have been more impressed if bigger players like Nigeria and South Africa had shown more enthusiasm for AfCFTA.

The Executive Director of APN Network said it is still not a great look for AfCFTA, when in 2022 only seven countries out of the lot appear to be ready for the trade.

The AfCFTA experts however jointly called on the private sector to continue being diligent in finding new markets, participating in trade fairs and establishing new contacts while waiting for opportunities to actually trade everywhere within the continent.

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