African countries have been urged to show commitment to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement in order to harness its benefits.
Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, the Centre Coordinator for CUTS International West Africa, a policy think tank, said the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) depended on the commitment of every nation involved and not just the signing and ratification of its agreement.
Mr Adomako said this in a press statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency, on the sidelines of the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger.
The forum, organised by the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, was to among others enhance stakeholder engagement on the implementation of the AfCFTA and increase participation opportunities for civil society stakeholders.
Held under the theme: ‘Enhancing civil society engagement in the AfCFTA to Broaden Inclusiveness’, the forum brought together participants from African civil society organsations (CSOs), CSO umbrella organisations on trade, and members of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), among others, the statement said.
It said majority of Africans felt removed and disconnected from the continent when it came to consumption because African nations did not trade among themselves.
“Our inability to trade among ourselves has been occasioned by inefficient trade infrastructure and logistics, non-tariffs barriers to trade as well as reduced manufacturing capabilities.
“With the signing of the AfCFTA and its ratification, African countries must take advantage of the collective GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion, making it the 8th largest economy in the world, 1.2 billion markets and to lift people out of poverty. This should encourage business people to take advantage of AfCFTA and make the investments necessary to sustain economic growth and create employment,” it said.
“Whilst the text of the AfCFTA has good intention, the success of the agreement requires that governments show full commitment and abide by the agreement. In the short term, there, there will be losers but the short-term pain is required to achieve a long term gain,” the statement said.
It called for a set-up of a National AfCFTA Council that would facilitate trading activities at the national levels.
“Like the World Trade Organsation Trade Facilitation which requires the establishment of National Trade Facilitation Committee at the national level, it would be helpful for countries to set up National AfCFTA Council and its membership should be extended to CSOS, government agencies, private sector, academia and others,”the statement said.
It said Mr Kwesi Quartey, the AUC’s Deputy Chairperson, commended the Department of Trade and Industry for the initiative and noted that the agreement if successfully implemented would accelerate industrial development and facilitate quality job creation in Africa.
The statement said establishing the AfCFTA (which entered into force on 30th May 2019), would soon have 54 signatories out of the 55 AU member states, and currently has 25 ratifications.
It said other speakers at the event included Isaac Hubert Arthur, the Executive Director for African Centre for International Trade and Development (ACINTaD), and Sylvester Bagooro, Programs Officer for the Third World Network Africa.