Third World Network (TWN), an independent non-profit international research and advocacy organisation, has urged signatories of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) to harmonise sectoral policies and implement liberalisation to help build Africa’s economy.
The organistion said Africa’s major challenge in trade was the poor negotiation of AfCFTA and its integration to restructure Africa’s economy.
In a seminar with African representatives on the AfCFTA held in Accra to share different perspectives on the continental trade agreement and how it could impact all.
Stakeholders at the discussion included researchers, farmers, academia and advocates from Southern Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa and North Africa.
Stakeholders were much concern about how African issues could be tackled from taxation, policies, advocacy, attitude and approach to curtail African problems.
However, suggestions were raised to find a thematic approach in addressing Africa’s economic challenges, and also take actions to implement them.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Sylverster Bagooro, Programme Officer for Third World Network Africa, said African’s must build sectoral linkages and focus on the value chain to harmonise and liberalise the ties among countries.
He said Africans must create an agreement on how liberalisation should be done in various countries to ensure good trade relations.
He explained that local production would help change the narrative of Africa serving as a dumping site for second-hand goods from European countries.
He added that in liberalising intra-African trade, African countries must consciously support indigenous firms and build regional, national and continental value chains.
He said there must be a tight rule to ensure all products imported to African countries must be in response to Africa’s economic needs.
“Bringing a product like tomato paste from Italy and then branding it as Obaapa in Ghana is a loose rule in terms of economic growth”.
The product should be made from raw materials in Africa to reduce the import of products, he said.
AfCFTA was aimed at enhancing the free movement of goods produced in Africa and also guarantee a ready market across Africa.
He noted that Africa was rich in both human and natural resources, but emphasised that the continent was import-dependent, which placed strains on its finances.
He said there would be rules to the liberalisation.
“Some African countries said the liberalisation is going to invade underdeveloped countries.
But we should know that all these issues would be highlighted in the letter.”
“When you are not producing with the materials in Ghana then you can not enjoy the liberalisation. You should produce with the raw African material to enjoy the AFCTA liberalisation.”
Hence, no foreign countries will be allowed to enjoy this liberalisation, he said.
Mr Bagooro advised Leaders representing their countries at Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to be bold and speak up about the trade agreement.
However, the objectives of the Third World Network is to deepen the understanding of the development dilemmas and challenges facing developing countries and to contribute to policy changes in pursuit of just, equitable and ecologically sustainable.