Ghana and businesses in the country will gain nothing much from the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) if efforts are not made to add value to the country’s numerous natural resources for export, the president of Ghana Association of Industries (AGI), Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, has said.
The country, he said, would become a dumping ground for other country’s manufactured products if the trade agreement comes into force.
Speaking at the Trades Union Congress (TUC)/ Ghana Employers Association (GEA), Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) forum on the 2020 budget and economic policy sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Dr Gyamfi stressed the need for the private and the manufacturing sectors to be strengthened to be able to produce for export.
He said AfCFTA would open Ghana’s economies to other African countries and enable them to export here free without paying duties, a situation which would affect Ghana’s revenue position.
Ghana has signed on the African Union AfCFTA and has offered to host the secretariat of the continental trade body.
The AfCFTA, a single market (duty and quota free) policy covering the entire Africa continent with a total population of 1.2 billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product of $3 trillion, is also expected to increase intra-African trade to 52 per cent by 2022 from the current 15 per cent and rake in about $35 billon per annum for the African market.
According to the AGI president, Ghana was among the first countries to sign on to AfCFTA, but proper measures have not been put in place to help the country benefit from the initiative.
The AGI president appealed to government to make conscious policies to prop up local industries to help them become viable and be able to compete with their foreign counterparts, pointing out that the manufacturing sector held a great prospect for employment generation and attracting more foreign exchange for the country.
To this end, Mr Gyamfi entreated government to buy equities in local companies to help them raise more capital to expand their businesses and address the high energy cost, high interest rates and high cost of production to help Ghanaian companies compete on the international market.
“How can Ghanaian companies compete with their Chinese counterparts when the cost of energy in China is four cents per kilowatt hour and 15 cents per kilowatt hour in Ghana,” he queried.
The first vice president of GEA, Dr Emmanuel Adu-Sarkodie called for a strong collaboration between industry, academia and government to help propel the manufacturing sector in Ghana.
Dr Adu-Sarkodie stressed that no country has ever developed without paying critical attention to industry and the manufacturing sector, saying the services sector do not develop an economy.
The Secretary General of the TUC Ghana, Dr Yaw Baah said conscious efforts had to be made to help locals take commanding heights of the economy.
He said the control of the Ghanaian economy by foreigners and foreign entities would not augur well for the development of the country.
By Kingsley Asare