The government of Ghana has assisted 30 Ghanaian firms to secure certifications of origin that will enable them to start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The certified firms were assisted through the (Ghana) National AfCFTA Coordination Office, which serves as the liaison between Ghana and the AfCFTA Secretariat. The firms are part of the 230 potential exporters identified to be guided through AfCFTA processes, procedures, and protocols as they develop their products to be exported.
Dr Fareed Kwasi Arthur, the National Coordinator at the (Ghana) National AfCFTA Coordination Office, who made this known at the opening of a workshop in Accra, noted that two out of the 30 firms have been exporting under AfCFTA since October this year. The two companies, Benso Oil Palm Plantation Limited and KEDA Ghana Ceramics Company Limited, exported palm oil products to Kenya and ceramics to Cameroon, respectively.
Dr Arthur averred that the coordination officer assisted the companies to meet the necessary protocol for the shipment of their consignments. Under the initiative, he stated that a company needed a certificate of origin issued by a competent authority, such as the Customs Division and the GNCCI. He noted that the certificate of origin accompanied the consignment to help the authorities of the designated country determine whether the goods were from a member country under the agreement. The coordinator added that the issuance of the certificate is also to ensure that goods or products to be shipped meet the necessary requirements under the protocol.
Dr Arthur explained that trading under AfCFTA formally started on January 1, last year, 2022, with Kasapreko Company Limited and Ghandour Cosmetics Limited shipping their products within the African continent to test the process. However, he said, official trading commenced on October 7, this year, 2022 making it the world’s largest free trade area in terms of participating member states after the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Dr Arthur postulated that the AfCFTA initiative has great economic, trade, as well as social, advantages for Africa if the continent advanced in infrastructure connectivity.
Maximising the Gains from the AfCFTA Initiative
Dr Arthur said the country had also put in place other institutional frameworks to help maximise gains from the initiative, including the establishment of the AfCFTA inter-ministerial committee, a national steering committee, and technical working groups on all the seven clusters for boosting intra-African trade.
Additionally, Dr Arthur noted that the Secretariat has designed the AfCFTA National Action Plan and the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) which are meant to help revitalise the country’s export development efforts, focusing strongly on Africa’s over 1.2 billion consumer market.
The two-day workshop, being organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), seeks to build the capacities of participants on AfCFTA. It featured topics such as trade and investment, decent work, and the role of trade unions in influencing trade policies.
A Senior Technical Specialist at the ILO, Inviolata Chinyangarara, stated that trade unions are critical in the development of national policies across the globe. She explained that the voices of trade unions needed to be heard to influence trade and investment policies. “We are happy to collaborate with the TUC to build the capacities of its affiliate on the AfCFTA initiative,” she added.