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AfCFTA Action plan must give private sector necessary impetus

BY: Daily Graphic
AfCFTA Action plan must give private sector necessary impetus
AfCFTA Action plan must give private sector necessary impetus

Ghana recently launched a national African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Policy Framework and Action Plan to position private businesses in the country to fully take advantage of AfCFTA.

The policy framework and action plan seeks to harmonise the relevant policies, programmes, laws and regulations to boost the productive capacity of the private sector in the country, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises, to harness the full benefits of AfCFTA.

The plan was derived from the work of the national structures put in place by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to advance the country’s interest in the continental project.

The AfCFTA promises broader and deeper economic integration and will attract investment, boost trade, provide better jobs, reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity in Africa.

Maximising AfCFTA’s benefits will require that Ghana develops proactive national strategies that will identify opportunities for financial growth and prosperity. And because of what Ghana stands to gain from AfCFTA, it is important the government be intentional and deliberate about creating the right environment, using policy to ensure that the private sector is able to maximise those benefits.

The Daily Graphic hopes that the successful implementation of the plan will boost the capacity of the private sector to take advantage of market access opportunities in Africa to promote ‘Made-in-Ghana’ goods and services.

African countries such as Ghana cannot overcome the current economic challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war if they do not develop measures to improve the productive capacities of the private sector and increase intra-African trade.

It is certain that the effective operationalisation of the AfCFTA agreement in Ghana will significantly boost balance of trade, stimulate investment and innovation, diversify exports, improve food security, foster structural transformation, enhance economic growth and, above all, provide jobs for the youth.

To this end, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Coordinating Office of AfCFTA must implement the programmes under the action plan with speed, effectiveness and commitment.

It does not matter the good intentions of the framers of the action plan, which is brilliantly structured — it will not mean much if

it is not implemented with speed, effectiveness and commitment.

And while working to ensure the successful implementation of the action plan, there are issues that tend to incapacitate our local businesses to make them uncompetitive which must be addressed.

Already, there are concerns about our local businesses being taken over by foreign suppliers who may be able to produce at a lower cost due to some competitive advantages.

The government may have to consider reviewing portions of the act, as well as incentivise indigenous companies to ensure that they are equipped to compete internationally.

Protectionism, in theory or practice, means shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports of goods and services in a bid to indemnify natives of such opportunities within.

In Ghana, there are protectionist laws that prohibit foreigners from engaging in retail trading activities unless prescribed requirements are met — Act 865 Sub-sections 27 & 28 of the GIPC Law.

As a country, we have been blessed with abundant human and natural resources, with large amounts of oil and gas, gold, cocoa, timber, industrial diamond, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, silver, salt and limestone.

We hope with the action plan, we can strategise and leverage trading in our commodities with other African countries for mutual benefit. Furthermore, emphasis must be placed on value addition to increase earnings from our exports.