More than a year since the symbolic export under AfCFTA by two of Ghana’s manufacturing companies, no other companies have exported under the continental free trade agreement, with sections of the public questioning why.
The Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Ghana, Emmanuel Doni-Kwame has explained that this is neither a demonstration of a failure of the trade agreement nor a sign of low interest by the private sector.
According to the Secretary General of ICC Ghana, intra-Africa trade persists however many traders may be trading under existing different trading agreements such as the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and are yet to migrate unto AfCFTA.
Again, Mr. Doni-Kwame also opined that private sector’s lack of activeness in the free market may be as a result of negotiations still ongoing between the party states.
He added that, while Ghana may appear ready to trade that may not be the case for all other countries who are at different levels of readiness.
Mr. Doni-Kwame explained that, “we may be ready but you export to for example, Guinea or Senegal, your goods may get in there but the customs officer over there may not be up to date with the developments of AfCFTA and necessary documentation.”
He added that it is also typical to expect that private sector companies are still recovering from the shocks of the economic situation on the continent, COVID-19 and its attendant lockdowns and restrictions.
“I believe we would have achieved a lot if COVID had not interrupted the situation. Coming out from COVID we also had some political issues in other countries, sanctions were imposed. This slowed down trading even within ECOWAS.”
The Secretary General of ICC Ghana said due to the trade itself lagging among member countries, Ghana, for starters, is looking to “concentrate on 7 countries who are up to speed with the implementation to begin trading so we can see the volumes. And when the 7 make mistakes, the others can learn and correct the mistakes.”
The Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce Ghana made these submissions on the Eye on Port program following the launch of the National AfCFTA policy framework and action plan in Accra.
The Trade Expert praised the development of the AfCFTA policy framework and action plan, which he believes will generate improved collaboration between state and private sector towards the nation’s trading objectives.
He said the document provides interventions geared towards the harmonisation of national laws, programs and policies to align with the AfCFTA objectives, to boost Ghana’s fortunes in the free market.
Mr. Doni-Kwame said this move is exemplary for other nations signed unto the AfCFTA to follow.
He admitted however that government needs to do more in terms of infrastructure and trade finance in order to create an enabling environment for private sector to thrive.