Mr Gerald Nyarko-Mensah, a Consultant on Export Trade, says the manufacturing sector offers Ghana the best hope in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said the country had a manufacturing capacity in several areas that could be expanded to give Ghana a comparative advantage in the regional trade market, adding that the support for the sector was crucial.
Mr Nyarko-Mensah was speaking at the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce Industry (GNCCI) virtual sensitisation seminar on AfCFTA in Accra on Wednesday on the theme: “AfCFTA: Adopting the right business strategies to fully benefit.”
It was aimed at sensitizing small scale businesses on how they could strategize to benefit from the Agreement.
Mr Nyarko-Mensah said Ghana’s products with high potential for the market included petroleum products, palm oil and derivatives, soap and detergents, textiles and garments, manufactured decor articles (including handicrafts), wood and wood products, vehicles and automotive products, sugars and sugar confectionery.
Others are leather and leather products, milled products (flours), and their extracts, paints and varnishes, plastics and plastic products, ceramic products, salt, sauces and preparations, shea and shea products, processed vegetables and fruits.
The rest are pharmaceutical products, alternate health care medicaments beverages and spirits, dairy produce, cocoa and cocoa products, products of iron or steel, edible fruit and nuts, processed fish or meat, synthetic fibres, fertilizers, and aluminium products.
The Consultant said Ghana could massively expand its export presence in the Economic Community of West African States by exporting through the coastal countries.
He said the top importers in Africa were all located on the coast, making it feasible to target them with bulk shipments by sea and from multi-modal transport into landlocked regions.
Dr John-Hawkins Asiedu, Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said AfCFTA ushered in a new dawn to Africa’s economic transformation and Ghana’s economy stood to benefit with the creation of a new market with a population of 1.2 billion and a combined GDP of about 3.2 billion dollars.
He said the Agreement, when fully implemented, would facilitate increased business opportunities in Ghana in terms of unlimited market and economics of scale, which would result in reduced cost of doing business and improve efficiency and profitability of businesses.
He said the government had established key national institutional structures to oversee the implementation of the Agreement including the ACFTA inter-ministerial facilitation Committee, the National Steering Committee and Technical Working Groups on all the seven clusters for boosting intra-African trade to help Ghanaian businesses to fully participate in the Agreement.
Dr Asiedu said there was the development of a National Action Plan and the National Export Development Strategy framework for revitalising the export development efforts with a strong focus on the African Continental market.
He said for Ghana to benefit from the single market, there was the urgent need to create awareness among the regulatory authorities, including Customs, economic operators, producers and exporters as well as the logistical sector.
‘We need to develop concrete ways to enable the regulatory authorities and the economic operators to interface with the system that are being established under this Agreement and to agree on the rules of origin, the Custom’s facilities and procedures for export and imports of goods,” he added.
Mr David Ofosu-Dortey, a Senior Partner at AB and David, said there was the need for businesses to have formal strategies in line with government policies to be able to benefit from AfCFTA.
“Informal strategies will not help if only they want to take advantage of the AfCFTA,” he said.
He said individual businesses should also have their own strategies that would feed into the AfCFTA strategy.
Mr Ofosu-Dorte said the visibility of products was also needed, adding that if the products were not visible in the market, they could not be purchased.
Mr Clement Osei- Amoako, President of GNCCI, said the private sector was an indispensable partner to the success of AfCFTA.
He said the business community stood to benefit from the removal of tariffs on goods and services as well as the meeting of non-tariff barriers.
Mr Osei-Amoako said the Chamber had developed a rigorous analytical framework that mobilised business diagnosis data from business performance metrics, industry profiles, developing constructive growth to help sustain growth of businesses in Ghana.
He, therefore, assured of continuous improvement in the delivery of targeted business support including private sector competitiveness.