Africa: Govt Takes Advantage of AfFCTA to Boost Intra-African Trade

GHANA has already started implementing a comprehensive agenda for industrial transformation, to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfFCTA), the Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan John Kwadwo Kyeremanten, has said.

The agenda, he explained, was in line with the Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) initiative, a continental programme, which aims at deepening African market integration.

Mr Kyeremanten was speaking at Parliament, yesterday, upon Ghana winning the bid to host the Secretariat of the AfFCTA at the 12th African Union Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger, over the weekend.

The minister said some of the interventions, included One District One Factory, Strategic Anchor Industries Initiative, One Region One Industrial Park and Small and Medium Enterprise Development and Promotion of Standards.

According to Mr Kyeremanten, related infrastructure for Ghana to harness benefit of the AfFCTA included the Tema Port expansion, roads, airports and railway projects, and stimulus package for local banks, banking reforms and national trade policies.

"Mr Speaker, a series of sensitisation workshops and seminars are being organised to provide information on the implementation of the AfFCTA.

"The stakeholder groups which are being targeted include senior policy makers, Members of Parliament, the business community, organised labour, academia, civil society and the media," Mr Kyeremanten told the lawmakers.

By hosting the AfFCTA, Mr Kyeremanten said Ghana would become the new commercial capital of Africa, a regional trade hub and economic epic-centre and the new gateway to the continent.

"The hosting of the secretariat will promote Ghana as an attractive investment destination and actively facilitate foreign direct investment into Ghana," he indicated.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Minority spokesperson on the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Committee, congratulating Ghana for winning the bid, said the benefits of the AfFCTA would not be realised if the continent remained disintegrated.

He said it was important African leaders eschew corruption to give the youth of the continent hope that AfFCTA would be the game changer as the proponents envisage.

A Deputy Agriculture Minister, Dr Sagri Bambangi, said the AfFCTA was a step towards a common market, economic union, and that the benefits were immense both practically and in theory.

"Let us not lose sight of the challenges ahead," he admonished and asked that all barriers which made trading between member states were removed for a smooth implementation of the AfFCTA.

The AfFCTA is a single market trading bloc covering the entire African continent, with a total population of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product of US$3 trillion.

Signed on by 53 out of 54 countries, the AfFCTA is the largest free trade area agreement second only to the World Trade Organisation, in terms of the number of member states.

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