The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) says the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) by Ghana will expose the country to a flood of foreign goods from African countries.
It, therefore, questioned why Parliament was swift to approve the agreement which could dwindle revenues from import duties, because imports from Africa would not be liable to pay duties.
“Every revenue Ghana is getting from imports from Africa is going to be eroded, because importers could bring in anything to Ghana. Even if they are made in Europe, you just take them to any African country and bring them to Ghana to avoid the payment of duties,” it stated.
The agreement, signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, is a trade agreement among 44 African Union (AU) member states with the goal of creating a single market and a single currency union.
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At a breakfast meeting organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Accra last Thursday, the President of the AGI, Dr Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, said: “We know the white people are smart in bringing goods through other African nations, and that is what is going to happen to Ghana.
“Even the small revenue the government is making is going to reduce as soon as the 22 African countries ratify the CFTA,” he added.
The meeting allowed representatives from the TUC, Ghana Employers’ Associations (GEA), AGI and the Ghana Chamber of Mines to discuss ways labour and the private sector can form bipartite relations to address unemployment and the poor quality of existing jobs in Ghana.
Dr Adu-Gyamfi indicated that the CFTA had been approved by Ghana and Rwanda, adding that: “We did so because we want the secretariat of the CFTA to come to Ghana, but having the secretariat does not create jobs.”
He argued that Nigeria, a country with a population of more than 150 million, refused to ratify the agreement and rather blocked its market to imports of foreign goods such as rice and fruit juices, a measure that had led to the closure of nine rice factories in Thailand.
“The Nigerian government insists that those who want to import rice must find their own dollars to bring in rice to Nigeria and as a result, 95 per cent of rice eaten in Nigeria is home-grown.
Cut dependence on IMF
The Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, reiterated the union’s call for Ghana to end its dependence on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which he blamed for contributing to the economic woes of the country.
He called on industry and labour to join forces to help Ghana end its IMF programme, pointing out that until “we show our muscle together to get IMF out, the IMF officials are the only people our government will listen to and not the private sector, which is the engine of growth.”