Parliament ratifies African free trade agreement
Parliament on Thursday held an emergency sitting to consider important national matters. One of the important items was the request by the House to ratify an agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will expand opportunities for the export of the country's products and boost export earnings.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, presented the agreement to Parliament, after which the Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, referred it to the Joint Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism and Foreign Affairs on the AfCFTA for consideration and report.
The AfCFTA is a trade agreement among 44 African Union (AU) member states, with the goal of creating a single market and later be followed by free movement and a single currency union.
It was signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
But signing the agreement does not yet establish the AfCFTA. It is expected to function as an umbrella to which protocols and annexes will be added. Once all documents are concluded and ratified by at least 22 states, the free trade area would have formally come into existence.
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In a brief remark, Mr Kyerematen said the ratification of the agreement would help expand opportunities for the export of value-added products by manufacturers and business executives.
The expected increase in exports would enhance the country's export earnings, he said.
He said Ghana had made a formal offer to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA, adding: "It is our wish that before the process for screening and selecting the host country is complete, Ghana would have had the opportunity of ratifying the agreement."
The Industrial Designs (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was laid and read the first time.
The report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications on the determination of the urgent nature of the Right to Information Bill, 2017 was also presented.
The Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, said the joint committee determined that even though there was high public interest in the matter, the bill should be taken through the normal legislative process, in accordance with Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution.