The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African Trade Ministers and experts working on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation, to conclude all outstanding issues on time for trading to start on July 1 next year as planned.
He said meeting all the deadlines set by the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government at their extra-ordinary summit in July this year, would allow the new African market commence smoothly and bring about the much anticipated socio-economic impact on the continent.
"Similarly, for the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, African Trade Ministers must ensure that the institutional structures, that are established to support the AfCFTA, are based on practical approaches that work in Africa.
"Existing, as well as new AU programmes and projects aimed at supporting trade, investment and economic development in Africa, at national, regional and continental levels, must all be properly coordinated to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, and, thereby, fast track regional integration, economic growth and development," he said.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 10th Meeting of African Ministers of Trade and 2nd Meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers in Accra on Saturday. It was for stakeholders to continue discussions towards AfCFTA implementation.
Unimpressed with low trade between African countries, currently some 16 per cent of combined GDP, he said the AfCFTA, would make Africa have the world's largest free trade area covering a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3 trillion.
"It will provide the vehicle for us to trade among ourselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner; it will offer a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our peoples; and it would give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocs" , he said.
President Akufo-Addo, expressing concern about the limited absorption capacity of public sector employment on the continent and the teeming youth population, urged the private sectors to take advantage of the AfCFTA to expand and create jobs.
Various governments, he said had the responsibility to assist this process by fashioning and implementing a comprehensive set of policies that will empower the private sector to achieve its goal.
"Appropriate fiscal, monetary, financial, energy, exchange rate, tariff and non-tariff policies must be co-ordinated to enable African enterprises to be competitive, and, where possible, achieve comparative advantage", he said.
"We owe it to generations unborn to ensure that the biggest trading bloc on the globe, whose outcomes will be rewarding to all, and which will assist in attaining the "Africa we want", does not falter.
"Let us work together, as stakeholders and strategic partners, to resolve the complexities of regional integration, whilst ensuring that the implementation of the AfCFTA leaves no one behind. We have the opportunity to build a new, prosperous, stable Africa, which will make her own unique contribution to the growth of world civilisation. Let us seize the time," he added.
For his part, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, thanked member states for supporting Ghana's bid to host the AfCFTA Secretariat and expressed the country's commitment to its responsibilities.
He entreated his colleagues to work together to resolve any outstanding differences that will make it impossible to achieve the free trade area, saying "don't be haunted by the fear of failure but be inspired by the challenge of success."