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The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Tuesday urged Ghana to embrace the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in its national poverty alleviation and development efforts as the country moves ahead to host the AfCFTA’s Secretariat.

“Ghana’s AfCFTA implementation strategy should not only focus on promoting high and sustainable long-term growth but also ensure that the benefits of such growth are widely shared in order to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living for all in Ghana,” an ECA statement quoted David Luke, African Trade Policy Center Coordinator at the ECA, as saying on Tuesday.

Ghana was among the first group of African countries that ratified the continental free trade agreement in May last year following the country’s signing of the AfCFTA during its adoption on March 21 in Kigali, capital of Rwanda.

The western African country, which was selected to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA on July 7 this year when African leaders’ officially launched the operational phase of the AfCFTA during the Niamey, Niger AU Extraordinary Summit, had also recently committed to donate 10 million U.S. dollars for the operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat.

The AfCFTA Secretariat, which is responsible to oversee the implementation of the agreement, is expected to follow up on the free trade pact’s transition period, which runs up to July 1 next year.

The ECA said it will organize a high-level conference on AfCFTA from August 19 to 21 in Accra, capital of Ghana under the theme “Harnessing the Benefits of AfCFTA for a Ghana beyond Aid.”

Joseph Atta-Mensah, Principal Policy Advisor at the ECA’s Macroeconomics and Governance Division, said that “the high-level conference addresses the question of how Ghana can design and implement effective strategies and policies that will support the promotion of rapid inclusive economic growth by boosting competitiveness and job creation under the AfCFTA.”

The meeting, which is organized in partnership with Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, is said to bring together key national and continental stakeholders to discuss national strategies and program interventions to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA, according to the ECA.

The ECA stressed the conference is part of “a wider project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA.”

The AfCFTA, which aspires to establish the world’s largest free trade area with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, will create a 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars economic bloc and usher in a new era of development, according to the ECA.

The free trade pact is also expected to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a customs union. Enditem

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