Chief Executive Officer of Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Mark Badu-Aboagye, has disclosed that efforts have been made by the Chamber to simplify the technicalities inherent in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement protocols.
Speaking in an interview on the buildup to a virtual sensitization seminar on the African Continental Free Trade Area, Mr. Badu- Aboagye explains that, business owners who exhibit interest to be part of the trade deal must actively do so by engaging in the manufacture of products and also services alike in order to tap into the Free Trade Area and benefit from it.
“For every business person or country to benefit from AfCFTA, it means you need to participate in the AfCFTA programme by producing and exporting and taking advantage of the bigger market that has been created. So, as a Chamber, what we have been doing is to ensure that the business community understands what the AfCFTA is. The protocol is quite technical so, ordinary people may not understand but we’ve been able to just simplify it for even an SME to understand the AfCFTA protocols and how they can benefit from the AfCFTA.
“So, we organized a lot of sensitization programmes and also building the capacity of the private sector and the business community to fully benefit from AfCFTA”.Mark Badu-Aboagye
Taking into considerations the current exit of Benin, a ratified member of the AfCFTA from the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization and their subsequent commencement in charging customs duties on products exported from Ghana, Managing Director of Interplast, Hyssam Fakhry, described it as a move which largely affects the promotion of regional economic integration.
Mr. Fakhry emphasized the ripple effect of the West African country exiting from the Trade Liberalization and imposing such duties on Ghana as one which makes the country “no more competitive with regard to our peers from other countries”, in spite of the big market for Ghanaian products and for exporters in Africa as well
However, Mr. Badu-Aboagye believes that, we have a very big market for our products and for exporters within Africa and Ghana.
“In fact, the benefit of AfCFTA is enormous; it’s going to create a lot of employment and we are going to promote industrialization in Africa… and it’s going to reduce prices of goods and services because exporters and importers are not going to pay for duties and it’s going to increase trade in Africa and of course transform our various economies.
With the recent despondency exhibited by stakeholders on the awareness level of businesses to actively take part in the Free Trade Area and stand a chance of raking in some profit, more recently, the Executive Director of AfCFTA Policy Network, Mr. Louis Yaw Afful Mr. Afful had acknowledged the insufficient level of knowledge exhibited by business owners and also sensitization on the trade deal.
Corroborating his stance on the issue, Mr. Badu-Aboagye noted that “awareness among the business community on AfCFTA is extremely low”.
“We get a lot of questions on what is AfCFTA, how do we benefit, what are the protocols [and] how can I send my goods to other countries in Africa”?