The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is expected to create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. AfCFTA has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty.
The agreement is expected to reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.
As the global economy is in turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment.
But Ghana may not be reaping the benefits of the AfCTA just yet despite the fact that it is headquartered in the country. This is according to the Agricultural Policy Consultant, Emmanuel Wullingdool.
“AfCTA presents a great opportunity; a market of almost 1.2 billion people. How are we as a member of the free trade area, able to produce and take advantage of this huge market? When you look at where we are currently, there are so many questions that need to be answered if we are really able to take advantage of this.”
“First, what are we producing? What is it that we are producing to go into the market with?” he quizzed.
Mr. Wullingdool explained that the government One District One Factory may not be able to properly feed into the possible benefits of the agreement.
“Government talks about One District One Factory but we are still grappling with basic things to the extent that this has almost become a saying that in Ghana, we import everything including toothpaste. On that level, we have not been able to do anything.”
“Take tomatoes, for example, the potential that the Pwalugu Tomato Factory could have had, if it was operational, under this free trade agreement is something that would have brought development to our people,” he said.
According to Mr. Wullingdool, the government is yet to tap into the huge potential that exists.
He made these comments when he spoke to Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith on the Day Break Upper East Show today, September 15, 2022. His comments were made on the back on some promises made in the NPP’s 2020 manifesto.
“Industrial Transformation: Building on the “One District, One Factory” and “Strategic Anchor Industries” policies, we will continue to promote agro-processing, including cocoa processing, add value to our minerals and petro-chemicals, promote labour-intensive and light manufacturing activities, continue the development of the Aluminium, Iron and Steel industries along their entire value chains through GIADEC and GIISDEC, establish a Development Bank to mobilise long-term capital for lending through banks for large-scale agricultural and industrial projects, and leverage our Regional Hub status and as hosts for the Secretariat of the AfCFTA to expand our access to regional and continental markets.”
Outside of the operationalization of major manufacturing industries, Mr. Wullingdool encouraged the government to expand physical infrastructure like farm roads to help close Ghana’s infrastructural deficits.
Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana