Minister-designate of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has explained that Ghana is not yet seeing the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, especially as the host country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing Parliament’s Appointments Committee on Thursday, February 11, 2021, the Foreign Minister-designate said, “Ghana’s successful candidature to host the AfCFTA secretariat will go a long way to help the country. It will impact our economic development. As the host country, there are several benefits, including employment, when it is at its full capacity of operation”.
“We have a head start, as the hosts, for our private sector to take advantage of as well. But for COVID-19, we would have seen a steady influx of international visitors for conferences and other events,” she added.
AfCFTA is an agreement among 54 African countries with an estimated potential of boosting both intra-African trades by 52.3 percent by eliminating import duties.
It also seeks to establish a single market for goods and services, allowing for free movement of business travelers and investments.
Ghana hosts the AfCFTA Secretariat, which is tasked with the responsibility of coordinating the successful implementation of the agreement.
The Secretariat operates as an autonomous organ of the African Union charged with implementing the decisions of the higher organs of the body in respect of the wide array of areas covered by the Agreement, ranging from industrialization to Intellectual Property, and from trade in professional services to the harmonization of standards for manufactured goods.
Speaking at the 2nd National Conference on the African Continental Free Trade Area, held on Tuesday, 20th October 2020, President Akufo-Addo said the AfCFTA, which is a market of some 1.2 billion people, will boost significantly intra-African trade, stimulate investment and innovation, diversify exports, improve food security, foster structural transformation, enhance economic growth, unleash the entrepreneurial dynamism of the African peoples, and create jobs for Africa’s youth.