Ghana has launched a national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Policy Framework and Action Plan to position private businesses in the country to fully take advantage of AfCFTA.

The policy framework and action plan are geared toward the harmonization of relevant policies, programmes, laws, and regulations to boost the productive capacities of the private sector in the country, particularly the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to harness the full benefits of AfCFTA.

Made in Ghana goods

In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah at the launch, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the successful implementation of the Action Plan would boost the capacities of the Ghanaian private sector to take advantage of the market access opportunities in Africa to promote ‘Made in Ghana’ goods and services.

He said the Action Plan was derived from the work of the national structures put in place by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to advance the country’s interest in the continental project.

The President stated that African countries could not overcome the current economic challenges occasioned by the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war if they did not develop measures to improve the productive capacities of the private sector and increase intra-African trade.

Effective implementation

President Akufo-Addo pointed out that the effective operationalisation of the AfCFTA Agreement in Ghana would significantly boost the balance of trade, stimulate investment and innovation, diversify exports, improve food security, foster structural transformation, enhance economic growth, and above all, provide jobs for the youth.

He, therefore, charged the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Coordinating Office of AfCFTA to implement the programmes under the action plan with speed, effectiveness and commitment.

“This framework, as brilliantly as it is structured will not mean much if you do not implement the programmes under it with speed, effectiveness and commitment.

“It is your successful implementation of the programmes under this framework that matters and which will ensure that thousands of Ghanaian businesses can ride on its back and export significantly into the African continent, thereby boosting local economic activity, our growth, jobs and earnings. So go at it and don’t be held back by the hurdles that will come your way,” he charged.

Assurance to private sector

President Akufo-Addo also assured the private sector that the government was working through this action plan and other initiatives to make it relatively easier for them to get access to the large market of over a billion people.

“Yours is to take advantage of it and collaborate with us to resolve any teething challenges that may come up. But no matter the nature of the challenges, be resolved to work with us, hand in hand, to make this work.

“It is in our national interest to not take this window of opportunity lightly. We are committed to mobilising the required financial and technical resources to assist Ghanaian businesses to take full advantage of the AfCFTA,” he said.

Harnessing full benefits

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, for his part, said the action plan outlined the short to medium-term implementation priorities and strategies for the Ghanaian private sector to harness the full benefits of the AfCFTA.

As host country for the AfCFTA secretariat, he said Ghana was uniquely positioned to become the new commercial capital of Africa and was therefore determined to make the most of the AfCFTA Agreement, by leveraging on the trade and investment opportunities that the AfCFTA presented, to accelerate the development and growth of the national economy.

He said the successful participation of AfCFTA was in line with the government’s vision of a “Ghana beyond Aid”, which aimed at transforming the Ghanaian economy and enhancing economic self-reliance.

“The AfCFTA Agreement provides immense opportunities for industrialisation and the development of regional value chains covering strategic sectors of the Ghanaian economy.

“In this regard, ongoing initiatives under Ghana’s 10-point Industrial Transformation Agenda, such as the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative, the establishment of new Strategic Anchor Industries aimed at diversifying the Ghanaian economy beyond cocoa and gold, and the implementation of the National Export Development

Strategy (NEDS), were all initiatives designed to transform the economy and enable Ghana optimise its benefits from the AfCFTA,” he stated.

Action plan timely

The Director, Trade in Goods and Competition at AfCFTA, Mohamed Ali, said the launch of the action plan could be timelier, given that commercially meaningful trading under the AfCFTA preferential terms was soon becoming a reality.

Mr Ali, who represented the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, noted that at the just concluded 9th Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers responsible for Trade, held in Accra, the secretariat reported significant progress in the state of readiness of state parties for the start of commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA.

He said key instruments for trading under the AfCFTA, including the Schedules of Tariff Concessions and Schedules of Specific Commitment on Trade in Services as well as trading documents and tools for operationalising the AfCFTA preferences that would facilitate cross border transactions, had all been finalised.

“I am pleased to inform this august gathering that the Council of Ministers also approved a secretariat-led initiative for guided trade under the AfCFTA.

“This initiative seeks to facilitate commercially meaningful trading, among interested state parties that have met the minimum requirements for trade, under the agreement,” he stated.

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