The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyeremanten has said Ghana has been selected to host the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat.
The AfCFTA, which is expected to be set up in Accra by the year 2020, is a duty-free single market with a free quota covering the entire African continent with a population of 1.2 billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost US$ 3 trillion.
Fifty-four out of the 55 African countries have signed on to the treaty and 27 countries have rectified the agreement which came into force on May 30, 2019.
At a news conference in Accra, Wednesday, Mr. Kyeremanten said that the creation of a single market had been a dream for Africa and seen as a building block for the African Economic Community.
According to him, AfCFTA was the most significant development in Africa since the establishment of AU in 1963 and was considered as a flagship programme of the Agenda 2063 of the AU.
On the objectives and benefits of AfCFTA, Mr. Kyerematen indicated that the free market would increase intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade within the African continent; address the challenge of small fragmented markets in Africa by creating a single continental market which would lead to economic scale; lead to value addition to Africa's abundant natural resources and promote economic diversification and industrialisation.
"It would help develop regional value chain and facilitate cross border investment; enhance access to an expanded market for Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME's) in Africa on preferential trade terms; attract Foreign Direct Investment into Africa with strong regional and local content; facilitate the integration of African economies into global markets; improve terms of trade for African countries; decrease in price of goods and service; enhance employment opportunities for the youth in Africa," he added.
Mr. Kyeremanten said AfCFTA had four components; a framework agreement incorporating the principles, guidelines and modalities for negotiations and three protocols (Trade in Good, Trade in service and Working Roles and Procedures to Dispute Settlement).
He said the other three Protocols comprising Investment, Competitive Policy, and Intellectual Property Rights would be concluded in the Second Phase of Negotiations.
He expressed government's excitement about the establishment of the secretariat in the country as it would create employment both directly and indirectly, adding that it would enhance the industrial capacity of the one district, one factory initiative.
He charged the Ghanaian companies to position themselves well and ensure that they comply with the programme of action that would boost intra-African trade.