Members of Parliament (MPs) have applauded President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for pushing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agenda and consequently getting Ghana selected to host the AfCFTA secretariat.
The legislators from the Majority and Minority caucuses also lauded the contributions of past presidents in pushing the AfCFTA agenda.
The legislators made the commendation yesterday following the presentation of a statement on AfCFTA and Ghana's Selection as the host country for the AfCFTA Secretariat" in Parliament by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen.
The AfCFTA, which was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018, is a Single Market (Duty-free Quota-free) trading bloc covering the entire African continent with a total population of 1.2 billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost USD$3 trillion.
Its goal is to create a single market, followed by the free movement of people and a single-currency union.
Fifty-four out of 55 countries in Africa have so far signed the AfCFTA.
On July 4, 2019, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) selected Ghana as the host country for the secretariat of the AfCFTA.
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The core mandate of the secretariat is to implement the AfCFTA Agreement, which has since been ratified by 27 member states of the AU.
In his statement, Mr Kyerematen said the AfCFTA was the most significant development in Africa since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
It is the world's largest free trade area, second only to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in terms of the number of member states," he said.
He added that there were many benefits that Africa would derive from implementing the AfCFTA, which included increased intra-Africa trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade within the African continent.
For instance, he said it was estimated that intra-Africa trade would increase by as much as USD$35 billion per annum or 52 per cent by 2022.
Mr Kyerematen said AfCFTA would address the challenge of small fragmented markets in Africa by creating a single continental market which would lead to economies of scale, add value to Africa's abundant natural resources and promote economic diversification and industrialisation.
Other benefits that Africa would derive from implementing the AfCFTA, Mr Kyerematen said, would be to add value to Africa’s abundant natural resources and promote economic diversification and industrialisation.
He said it would also help to develop regional value chains and facilitate cross border investments in Africa, as well as enhance access to an expanded market for SMEs in Africa on preferential trade terms.
Additionally, he said that it would also attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into Africa with strong regional and local content while facilitating the integration of African economies into global markets.
In all of these, Mr Kyerematen said it would also significantly improve the Terms of Trade for African countries, enhance benefits to consumers in Africa through lower prices of goods imported from within Africa and significantly enhance employment opportunities in Africa, particularly for the youth.
Mr Kyerematen said Ghana had already started implementing a comprehensive agenda for industrial transformation in readiness to take advantage of the AfCFTA.
He mentioned Enhancing Industrial Productive Capacity, One District, One Factory (1D1F) Initiative, Strategic Anchor Industries Initiative, One Region, One Park (Industrial Parks & Special Economic Zones) as some of the intervention programmes.
Mr Kyerematen said the Ghana International Trade Commission had also been established to deal with the issue of piracy and dumping of goods in the country.
The MPs urged the government to support companies to increase production to meet the expected demands under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
They again stressed the need for the country to add value to its products to beat off competition from other countries on the continent.
In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said AfCFTA was a path to trade development and diversification in the country.
He said it was important for the country to add value to the country's natural resources to derive maximum benefits from the agreement.
Mr Iddrisu urged the government to provide utility services such as water, electricity and Internet connectivity to industrial parks to encourage companies to go into production.
For her part, the Deputy Majority Leader, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, said Ghana's position as a gateway to Africa would be firmed up with the establishment of the AfCFTA in Accra.
She urged the government to develop the requisite infrastructure to aid the implementation of the AfCFTA.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu and Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, urged African leaders to show commitment towards the implementation of the AfCFTA.
He again asked the leaders to eschew corruption since that could thwart efforts to promote trade and create jobs on the continent.
In his contribution, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the AfCFTA would support Ghana to grow its economy and become the trade hub in Africa.
That, he said, would add to the country's credentials as an oasis of peace and stability in Africa.