Ghana is poised to become the new commercial capital of Africa following its successful bid to host the headquarters of the newly established African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Accra, the Minister for Trade and Industry Alan Kyeremanten has said.
He said the country would take advantage of the opportunity of hosting of the secretariat to become the new commercial capital of Africa, a regional trade hub, economic epi-centre and new gateway to the continent.
“In spite of Ghana’s pioneering role in the struggle for independence in Africa and subsequent contributions to the integration of the continent, Ghana has not had the honour and privilege of hosting any African Union organ,” he emphasised.
Addressing the media in Accra yesterday, Mr Keremanten said the establishment of the area was going to be the game changer for the country.
This, he explained was largely because it would open up new market access opportunities under preferential terms for Ghanaian producers particularly small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).
“The AfCFTA apart from addressing the challenge of small fragmented markets in Africa by creating a single continental market which will lead to economies of scale, will also ensure that value is added to the continent’s abundant natural resources and promote economic diversification and industrialisation,” he stated.
Mr Kyeremanten said while the establishment of the area was welcoming, it was important to emphasise that the accompanying benefits would not come automatically as a result, member states would have to put in a programme of action in order to tap into the opportunities it present.
“Each country is required to identify specific areas of comparative advantage and strategic focus for diversification and develop value chains for both goods and services,” he outlined.
To this end he said the country had already prepared itself in order to harness these benefits, stressing that, “As a country, we are already enhancing our industrial productivity capacity through the implementation of the One District One Factory Initiative, the strategic anchor industries initiatives, the one region one park and the promotion of standards.”
The minister explained that the customs management reforms including the single window platform and implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement as well as the trade-related infrastructure projects currently ongoing were all geared towards that direction.
He said to ensure that the country took advantage of the new trade area, an inter-ministerial facilitation committee made up of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Attorney General, National Security and Trade, had been put in place to support and coordinate the implementation of the AfCFTA in the country.
Mr Kyeremanten said a national AfCFTA coordination office was being established at his outfit to serve as a one-stop shop facilitation and information hub in addition to the establishment of technical working groups to support the private sector under each of the seven BIAT clusters.
The minister said there could not have been any better time than now for the country to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA, adding that it is an honour and privilege to host any African Union organ.
By Cliff Ekuful