Govt supports 100 firms to export under AfCFTA

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta
Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta

The government has designed a comprehensive National Action Plan to help harness the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The plan is to serve as a blueprint on revamping the operations of businesses to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities offered to export to other countries on the African continent.

As a result, an Enterprise Support Programme has been initiated to assist 100 medium to large-scale companies to export to the AfCFTA market.

The implementation of the programme is being coordinated by the newly established National AfCFTA Coordination Office in Accra.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who made this known during the presentation of the 2021 Mid-year Budget in Parliament on July 29, observed that the move formed part of policies of the government to ensure that businesses benefited from the gains of the Africa single market.

He stated that the policies were also aimed at easing the cost of credit, ensuring constant supply of low cost power to businesses and improving transportation infrastructure to allow for easy movement of goods and people across the country.

The minister stated that the potential products for export to the AfCFTA market included shea and shea products, processed vegetables and fruits, sauces and preparations, pharmaceutical products, alternate healthcare medicaments, beverages and spirits, dairy produce, cocoa and cocoa products, products of iron or steel, edible fruit and nuts, processed fish or meat, synthetic fibres, fertilisers, aluminium products and essential oils.

According to him, the AfCFTA would enhance government’s current Industrial Development Agenda and contribute to the diversification of the Ghanaian economy.

He said the removal of tariffs on goods from African countries would allow Ghanaian businesses to source cheaper inputs for production in the country.

“It will make locally produced goods more competitive and support the development of regional and continental value chains.

“Mr Speaker, additionally, Ghana will leverage the AfCFTA to facilitate our agenda to become a regional hub of financial services, manufacturing, ports and logistics,” he said.

Trading under the AfCFTA, which seeks to create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of persons and investment, entered into force on May 30, 2019.

To date, 54 member states have signed the agreement and 40 have ratified.

Further to this, 41 countries have submitted tariff offers while 33 state parties and non-state parties have submitted their initial offers to the Secretariat.

Ghana’s commitment

However, trading officially started on January 1, 2021, after a six-month delay on account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Ghana demonstrated its commitment to trade under AfCFTA by shipping its first consignment of goods, the first country to do so, on January 4, 2021.

Two Ghanaian companies, Kasapreko Company Limited and Ghandour Cosmetics Limited, exported goods to South Africa and Guinea, respectively.

Kasapreko successfully exported a 20-footer container of alcoholic beverages to South Africa by air, while Ghandour Cosmetics also shipped a 20-footer container of cosmetic products to Guinea by sea last month.

Trade Agreements

Mr Ofori-Atta stated that a National Export Development Strategy (NEDS), coordinated by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), had also been launched with a target of achieving US$25 billion in non-traditional exports by 2022.

In this regard, he said a number of value-added products and commodities had been selected for enhanced production and export to key markets around the world.

“Mr Speaker, Parliament ratified the new Ghana- United Kingdom (UK) Interim Trade Partnership Agreement in July 2021.

“Among its key objectives, the Agreement seeks to provide for trade continuity between Ghana and the UK; strengthen economic and trade relations between Ghana and the UK; and build the foundation for negotiating a free trade agreement between the UK and the Economic Community of West African States,” he said.

Ghanaian exporters

The minister stated that the agreement allowed exports from Ghana to enter into the UK Market duty free, quota free and provided tariff preferences for 80 per cent of goods exported from the UK into the Ghanaian market.

The implementation of the Interim EU-Ghana Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) also commenced on July 1, 2021.