The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said the importation of some exclusive products banned by some economies like Nigeria will by the 13th year of the Continental Free Trade Agreement Area (AFCTA) be completely phased out.

Ahead of the implementation of this agreement, there have been concerns over the standpoint of some protective economies like Nigeria and South Africa which ban importation and services originally produced but Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, David Luke says the Continent Free Trade Agreement puts everyone on a level playing field.

Addressing the media, Dr David Luke explained that; “This particular agreement puts everyone on a level playing field. It says that 90 per cent of tariff lines should be liberalized and also 90 per cent of trade.

It also says the remaining 10 per cent will be phased out depending on barest technical criteria over a maximum period of 13 years so countries can now designate excluded products and sensitive products and those categories have a timeline for being phased out. So by year 13, we should be at 100 per cent and down to zero. So what this means is that everyone will be on the same page?”

Ghana’s SMEs and AFCTA

All SMEs and infant businesses in Ghana and across the African sub-region have been considered in the next phase of a draft policy to facilitate the smooth completion of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA).

There have been concerns that smallholder businesses could be out-priced from the agreement especially in Ghana where 70 to 80 per cent of them face credit challenges.

Dr Luke said a special arrangement has been drafted to deal with this issue.

According to him, “the agreement itself provides for the protection of infant industries, startups and SMEs and they are excluded from subsidies and that kind of support from the government but clearly, the bigger part of support comes from domestic sources.”

Diversifying Ghana’s Agriculture

Meanwhile, Principal Policy Advisor for UNECA, Dr Joseph Atta-Mensah has called for the “need for Ghana to move away from being suppliers of raw materials to suppliers of finished goods. We have to focus on the agro-business so we get the maximum of this agreement. Especially in the Cocoa sector, there is a need to look at the multi-dimensional. We have a huge demand for chocolates worldwide especially in the African markets.”

About AFCTA Secretariat in Ghana

Ghana has been chosen by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The core mandate of the Secretariat will be to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which has since been ratified by 25 member states.

With the AfCFTA now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, it will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the Agreement.