Ghana, others urged to add value to products
Ghana and other African countries have been urged to create room for the private sector to manufacture and sell without any form of bureaucratic hurdle.
Additionally, the countries have been encouraged to invest and add value to its products in order to improve intra-Africa trade.
According to the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, this had become relevant because Africa’s share of world trade was less than three per cent and intra-Africa trade was 18 per cent.
She said this when she engaged the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in a conversation at its dialogue centre in Accra.
The event was under the theme “Making Africa Benefit from Globalisation.”
“Ghana is home to the AfCFTA agreement so this is a good place to talk. But before I say that, I say I am not at all happy with Africa’s share of world trade which is slightly less than three per cent and intra-Africa trade is only 18 per cent,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.
“We have room to do so much more. To trade more, we have to add value to our products, manufacture and sell more. We should thank our private sector people and try to create the room for them to be able to manufacture and sell, and not put bureaucratic hurdles in their way,” she added.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala noted that to do away with investment barriers in terms of intra-Africa trade, an agreement known as the investment facilitation agreement is currently being negotiated by the WTO of which she expects Ghana to be a part.
Aside the negotiation agreement, the Director General indicated that her outfit was partnering with organisations and agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide financial support for trade-related infrastructure.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala noted that in as much as trade was usually considered as a contributing factor to climate change due to its logistics, it also formed part of its solution.
According to her, Africa was suffering the impact of climate change disproportionately despite contributing to only three per cent of all carbon emission in the world, hence the need to address the issue head on.
“Trade helps in adaptation and mitigation. The technologies you need in order to fight climate change cannot circulate without trade. So trade is a good disseminator of the new technologies,” she added.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala also said African countries deserved a transition period to face out of fossil fuel and be allowed to use gas but not coal as it might not be able to meet the 2050 deadline.
In addition, she advised Ghana and other African countries to invest into technology as trading had become digitalised.
She said the WTO was currently negotiating rules that underpin digital trade in order to bring about more predictability and certainty.
Despite Ghana’s economic challenges, Dr Okonjo-Iweala lauded the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta for developing various reforms to help stabilise the economy, saying “it was the right way to go.”
In attendance at the conversation were Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, civil society organisations (CSOs), the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), representatives of various political parties and other relevant stakeholders.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala and her team from the WTO at the end of the conversation with the IEA then made their way to visit the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
BY BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY