Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has implored Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) yet-to-be rolled out by the African Union (AU).
She said the Agreement, targeted at creating a single continental market for goods and services, will open up the over one billion African market to Ghanaian businesses.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU's Assembly of Heads of State and Governments, the Minister said the CFTA will bolster trade and ensure a "borderless Africa."
“Already the protocol of free movement of goods and services through the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) works very well – the East African Economic Community (EACC) and also the South African Development Community (SADC) works perfectly as well," she said, making a case for uniform trade.
Intra-continental trade in the year 2000 accounted for about 10 percent of Africa’s total trade, and only increased marginally to 11 percent in 2015.
Trading among members of the European Union (EU), for example, amounted to 70 percent in 2015. Intra-African trade is still estimated at less than two percent (2%) of global trade.
To improve trade among countries, Heads of State in Africa signed an agreement to implement the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), which negotiation started in June 2015.
The CFTA, when implemented, will reduce the continent’s vulnerability to external shocks and expected to enhance the participation of Africa in global trade as a respectable partner.
Ms Ayorkor Botchwey believes the CFTA will wean African countries off foreign aid.
“So now the thing is for us to bring it together and to ensure that if we produce goods in Ghana, our market should not be the 27 million [people], our market should be first of all be the ECOWAS market, which is over 300 million and by extension the over one billion for Ghana,” she said.
To achieve this, she said there is the need to "harmonise our tax regimes and imports across the continent."
Already, new AU Chairman, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is projecting the removal of all barriers to continental trade within the next five to 10 years.
Mr Kagame has lauded the various regional blocs for implementing their various protocol on the movement of people, goods and services, charging them to support the CFTA.