Western Regional conference and stakeholders’ engagement of AfCFTA ends 

October 14, 2023
Western Regional conference and stakeholders' engagement of AfCFTA ends 
Western Regional conference of AfCFTA

Dr Fareed Arthur, the National Coordinator for the Africa Intercontinental Free Trade (), has called on the Ghanaian business community and stakeholders in the commerce industry to wholeheartedly embrace and support the AfCFTA program to establish Africa as a formidable trade powerhouse.

He emphasized that the government, along with several African countries, had made a commitment to trade among themselves, with 40 African countries signing the initial agreement in 2018.

Dr Arthur stated, “The government has taken the additional responsibility of setting up the necessary framework for implementation to further enhance the success of the initiative… everyone must be actively involved in achieving the desired successes.”

Highlighting the importance of a proper coordinating mechanism, Dr Arthur stated, “What we need most importantly is a proper coordinating mechanism to tap into the potential of a more prosperous and resilient Africa.”

He made these remarks during the Western Regional Conference and Stakeholders Engagement on the Implementation of the AfCFTA agreement in .

The conference provided participants with an overview of the key milestones achieved thus far, including the guided trade initiatives that began in October of the previous year.

The AfCFTA aims to establish the world's largest free trade area, uniting the 55 countries of the (AU) and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

It envisions creating a single continental market for approximately 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of around US$3.4 trillion.

The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, the African Union's long-term development strategy aimed at transforming the continent into a global powerhouse.

The AfCFTA's primary objectives include eliminating trade barriers, promoting intra-African trade, and establishing regional value chains in Africa to encourage investment and job creation.

Mr Jacob Gyamfi Aidoo, the Senior Administrator of Stakeholders and Capacity Building shared that the agreement aims to gradually eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods.

Over a period of five to 10 years, 90 percent of tariff lines traded under the AfCFTA will be liberalized, while 7% will be designated as sensitive products to be liberalized.

Additionally, three percent of tariff lines identified as restricted goods will be excluded from tariff liberalization. The agreement also provides special treatment for Least Developing Countries (LDCs) with longer implementation periods.

Ghana, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (), will apply a 10-year timeframe to maintain a common external tariff.

The Ghanaian government launched a policy framework in August 2022, developed through comprehensive stakeholder consultations, which encompasses seven components: Trade Policy, Trade Facilitation, Enhancing Productive Capacity, Trade-related Infrastructure, Trade Information, and Trade and Development Finance.

Under the AfCFTA requirements, goods must originate from State Parties and possess an AfCFTA Certificate of Origin as proof of origin.

Additionally, the goods must undergo substantial transformation and value addition and comply with the Schedule of Tariff Concessions.

Mr Jonathan Dabrah, the Principal Revenue Officer of Tariffs and Trade at Customs, GRA, highlighted that Ghana's role as the Designated Competent Authority gives Customs the responsibility of verifying the origin of products. He noted that trade tariffs have been reduced to encourage more participation.

Mr Dabrah called for the continuous support of the business community, as Ghana serves as a test case for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union.

Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the Western Regional Minister, emphasized the economic importance of the region, stating that it is home to significant sectors such as cocoa, rubber, coconut, gold, manganese, and oil and gas. He highlighted the region's potential to drive industrialization, job creation, investment, and enhance competitiveness.

Mr Darko-Mensah acknowledged the contributions of the private sector, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs in the region, whose hard work has significantly contributed to progress.

The , the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the Takoradi Technical University, and other regulatory bodies educated Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises on leveraging the benefits provided by the AfCFTA.

The engagement of the Ghanaian business community and stakeholders in the successful implementation of the AfCFTA will be crucial in realizing the vision of a prosperous and thriving Africa with strong economies and robust markets, contributing to the achievement of the (SDGs) and Agenda 2063.

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