The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has engaged trade associations and manufacturers of exportable products in Koforidua, on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS), to discuss ways of harnessing the benefits of the AfCFTA.
Key among the topics discussed at the conference included overview of the NEDS, the AfCFTA Market Opportunities and Potential Products and the National Action Plan to Harness the benefits of the AfCFTA and the participants included members of the Ghana National Dressmakers and Tailors Association (GNDTA) and the Association of Small Scale Industries (ASSI).
The conference was organized jointly by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), the National AfCFTA Coordination Office and the GEPA on the theme "Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to Harness the Benefits of AfCFTA Agreement Under the Framework of NEDS".
Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, Chief Executive Officer of the GEPA, said Regional conferences were being held across all the regions to engage stakeholders on the benefits of the AfCTA agreement and how small businesses could reposition, to take advantage of the AfCFTA implementation.
She indicated that a survey showed that only about 26 percent of Ghanaian businesses were aware of the AfCFTa and understood the agreement and added that her outfit was collaborating with the One District One Factory (1D1F) secretariat to ensure that each district produced at least one exportable product to be taken to the AfCFTA market.
Dr Asare, disclosed that the AfCFTA agreement was scheduled to begin in January 2021 and aligned to Ghana’s industrialization agenda and added that it was expected to achieve a rapid increase in non-traditional export from the current 2.9 billion dollars in 2019 to 25.3 billion dollars by the year 2029.
Mr Sammy Dentu, Deputy CEO of GEPA, said government had developed a 10-year comprehensive NED strategy which prioritized three key pillars including, Expanding and Diversifying the Supply Base for Value Added Exports and Services, Improving the Business Regulatory Environment for Exports and Building and Expanding the Required Human Capital for Industrial Export Development and Marketing.
Dr Kwasi Fareed Arthur, Coordinator of the National AfCFTA coordination office, said 17 non-traditional export products had been selected to be focused on, in terms of development, production and packaging for the AfCTA market and mentioned Malt, Oil palm and Cotton as some of the priority products identified.
He noted that Malt for instance, had a huge market worldwide, yet Ghana was not exporting such product and explained that malt could be produced from cassava and any other starchy food and Ghana could leverage on the abundance of cassava and yam to produce malt in exportable quantities to benefit from the AfCTA.
Ms Hectoria Kyerewaa Korto, Food Manufacturing Inspections Unit of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), said FDA license was a critical component in the export of foods and drugs in order to meet the required standards of the global market, and urged producers of any food item weather in large or small quantities to ensure that their products had been licensed.
She urged the participants to ignore the perception that FDA protocols for licensing was rigid and disclosed that in order to get every food producer to be licensed for the safety of the consuming public, a unit had been set up in all FDA offices across the country to help clients go through the processes easily.