FOR Ghanaian business to succeed in taking advantage of the huge market created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is incumbent on both individual business owners and their coalitions to assist in various dimensions.
One way business associations or groups can come in is by helping members to develop strategies that will lead into tapping into the advantage of the continental agreement.
The Founder and Senior Partner of AB and David, a Pan African Business law firm with offices in five countries, Mr. David Ofosu-Dorte, made this remark at a sensitisation seminar held on yesterday on the theme: “AfCFTA: Adopting the Right Business Strategies To Fully Benefit”
The seminar organized by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) in collaboration with Joy Business Bank of Africa and Ghana Shippers Authority.
Mr. Ofosu-Dorte said with the coming into effect of the AfCFTA, there has been a huge market for the business community, clothing alone has 1.2bn available market to be tapped into. He added business to business spending currently over $600bn, while manufacturing is expected to hit one trillion by 2025.
He said institutional bodies or association like the GNCCI ought to create strategies and these strategies could be created in a collective manner with basic principles and must be industry specific, adding that there was the need to lobby government for specific policies like the One District One Factory and the National Export Strategy to be put in place to favour the Ghanaian business community.
Mr. Ofosu-Dorte explained that there was the need for associations to also put in place mechanisms to monitor the sectors that their members belong to know whether or not they are making progress the strategies developed. The Associations could direct the ways its members go inasmuch as it helps to maximise the benefits of the AfCFTA.
He said: “You have the duty to help your members to take advantage of the AfCFTA. And for me, it is very sample. It will require that process are reinvented at the business level and processes are reinvented at the association level so that in this reinvention, we can take advantage of this new era, which requires a reinvention to integrate into the wider African market.”
He noted that businesses could not tap into the huge market made available by AfCFTA if their produce did not meet a certain standard, adding that the standards could be verified with the Ghana Standards Authority.
On his part, the Former Director of the Multilateral, Regional and Bilateral Trade of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Anthony Nyame-Baafi said the AfCFTA is a duty-free, quota-free single market covering the entire African Continent – made up of 55 countries, with a total population of 1.27billion and combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion to US$6.4 trillion depending on the source of data.
Touching on the protocols, rules and regulations of the AfCFTA, Mr. Nyame-Baafi noted that the Agreement comes with six different protocols, three of which have been completed in the phase one of implementation – protocols on trade in goods; on trade in services; on rules and procedures and procedures on settlement of disputes. He added that the remaining three more protocols will be completed by July 2021 in the phase two – protocols on competition; on investment and; on intellectual property rights.
The AfCFTA Agreement formally took effect on the 30th May, 2019, nonetheless official trading commenced on 1st January, 2021. AfCFTA is estimated to boost intra – African trade by 52 percent by 2022, through elimination of duties and quotas on imports and exports amongst State Parties.