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GUTA welcomes Africa free trade agreement; Pledges full support in implementation

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry
Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry

The Greater Accra Regional branch of the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) has welcomed the actualisation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and pledged its support for it.

According to the association, the full implementation of the trade agreement would help to promote local businesses on the international stage and create opportunities for them to grow.

The branch also said it was optimistic that the AfCFTA and the subsequent choice of Ghana to host the secretariat of the continental body would create employment opportunities in the country.

The Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional GUTA, Mr David Amoateng, stated this in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Monday.

Trade minister lauded

He commended the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, for the pivotal role he played in the birthing of the AfCFTA and called on local traders to support the implementation of the trade agreement.

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“We welcome the AfCFTA initiative because it will help to boost local businesses and also create employment opportunities in the country, especially when the secretariat is going to be established here.

“We met the Trade minister about the AfCFTA and its impact on the retail trade and we have been assured that the coming into force of the agreement will not interfere with the laws on local retail sector. We can assure our people that foreigners will not hijack the retail sector because of the AfCFTA so they should not be worried,” he said.

Mr Amoateng said if the trade agreement was properly implemented and the government also facilitated the provision of warehouses, the local small-scale and medium enterprises (SME) sector would be boosted.

Law enforcement

Mr Amoateng called on the law enforcement agencies to take steps to enforce Section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Corporation (GIPC) law (Act 865) that barred foreigners from participating in the domestic retail sector.

The enforcement of section 27 of the GIPC Act has been a subject of great controversy with some people saying that once Ghana had signed on to be part of some international organisations such as ECOWAS, local traders could not prevent foreigners from engaging in retail trade.

However, Mr Amoateng maintained that members of GUTA were not against foreigners trading in the country but rather, they wanted to protect petty trading from being taken over from local people.

Background

Ghana was selected among six other countries which submitted bids to host the AfCFTA Secretariat, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, E-Swatini and Madagascar.

In the final stages, Senegal, Ethiopia and Egypt withdrew their bids in favour of Ghana.

The operational phase of the secretariat involves the commencement of work by the interim team which started work on July 10, the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and key Secretariat Executives which would take place on December 31, and the setting up of a permanent secretariat by March 2020.

Some of the critical elements of the operational phase are the adoption of rules of origin and the launching of key AfCFTA operational instruments.

The key instruments include an online platform for tariff negotiations, the establishment of an African Trade Observatory, a digital payment and settlement systems; and an online mechanism reporting and monitoring for non-tariff barriers.

Others are a mobile application for AfCFTA business activities, the MANSA repository platform to serve as a centralised database for customer due diligence and a US$1 billion AfCFTA adjustment facility to manage the adverse effects of revenue losses for selected countries.

Reiteration

The General Secretary of the Greater Accra GUTA, Mr Emmanuel Nana Opoku Acheampong, stressed that if any foreigner wanted to do business in the country, they ought to do so within the confines of existing laws.

“Ghanaian traders are not asking for too much. What we are simply saying is that foreigners should bring their wares; supply to Ghanaians as wholesalers; and leave the retail sector for the local people,” he said.