An independent non-profit international research and advocacy organization, Third World Network Africa has charged government to focus on building a strong negotiation position, in order to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This comes a few days after Ghana was selected as the host country for the secretariat of the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
Expected to start operations by March 2020, it will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the 54 Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the Agreement.
Speaking to Citi News about the ramifications of hosting the secretariat, Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa, Dr. Yao Graham said, Ghana risks being known only as a host for the secretariat if it fails to develop a position that benefits local businesses ahead of the full implementation of the AfCFTA.
He explained that “If we are going to benefit from the AfCFTA, it is a lot of work, a lot of consultation, and a lot of research. It becomes more imperative that we think seriously the challenges posed by the organization of the AfCFTA and prepare benefits from it or to protect ourselves against the challenges that the AfCFTA poses.”
Ghana commits $10m to setting up African Free Trade Secretariat
President Akufo-Addo has already said that “Ghana is ready to donate US$10 million to the African Union to support the operationalization of the Secretariat. I have set up an inter-Ministerial Committee of my government to work with the AU Commission towards this end”.
He further stated that, “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.”
President Akufo-Addo promised to support the secretariat for the smooth implementation.
In his commitment, he said, “I am determined to do whatever I can to guarantee the smooth take-off of the Secretariat, and help make sure that it turns out to be a world-class institution, which will become the pride and joy of all Africans,”