The government will roll out a national programme of action for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from November this year.
The plan will outline institutional structures and modalities for mainstreaming the provisions in the trade agreement into national programmes to facilitate trade and move the country beyond aid.
Announcing the initiative, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, explained that the national programme of action on AfCFTA would hinge on seven thematic areas, including trade facilitation, trade investment financing, trade information sharing, production capacity, cost of doing business and private sector participation in the trade agreement.
He was speaking at the closing session of a three-day conference on the implementation of the AfCFTA in Accra last Wednesday.
The conference, which discussed “Harnessing the potential of the AfCFTA for a Ghana beyond aid”, brought together key stakeholders from both state and non-state agencies to discuss the way forward to effectively implement the AfCFTA in the country.
Mr Kyerematen explained that there would be a national coordinating office to serve as a one-stop-shop for all activities of AfCFTA.
"We will also have technical working groups that will focus on the seven thematic areas, and a steering committee that will be decentralised to the regional and district levels for inclusiveness," he said.
He added that the trade ministry would begin a national consultative process to mobilise support, inputs and views from all parts of the country to ensure inclusive implementation of the AfCFTA.
"Our problem is not the lack of trade policies or agreements, but rather the lack of ability to implement the agreements. Let us, therefore, look at the AfCFTA seriously to identify the gaps and address them properly," he said.
The Senior Minster, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, called on stakeholders to up their game and be active players in ensuring that Ghana leveraged her competitive advantage to harness the potential of AfCFTA.
He said that required strengthening collaboration between academia and industry players to use the trade agreement as a vehicle to achieve a Ghana beyond aid.
"The trade integration is key to the integration of Africa and we must all support it. People should not be worried that the AfCFTA will make other people to come into their country and take over their local market. It is an opportunity for others to also go to other countries and take opportunities there," he said.
images/2018/may/trade.pngThe Chief Rapporteur, Dr Joseph Atta-Mensah, underscored the need for stakeholders to work hard to resolve concerns raised at the forum.
Among the concerns he raised were access to trade information on the AfCFTA; finance for women and the youth; reducing the cost of financing businesses, especially small-scale and medium enterprises (SMEs); and the need for inter-related transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail and aviation to ensure the success of the AfCFTA.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, said the AfCFTA was an opportunity for Ghana to build the capacity of her youth to put them in a better position to compete favourably with others on the job market.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Dr Afisah Zakariah, observed that efforts would be made to mainstream issues of gender and social protection into the implementation of the AfCFTA to ensure inclusive economic benefits to all classes of people.