We must take the issue of intra-African trade seriously—Senior Minister

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By Alexander NyarkoYeboah

Source: GITFIConline.com

 

Accra Oct 29, gitficonline—The Senior Minister has asked African countries to overcome the tendency to do business with non-African states onlyif they are to realize the full benefit of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo says, “…intra-African trade was around 2% during 2015/16. Intra-American trade was 47%, Asia had 61%, and Europe, 67%, so naturally we have a long way to go to make the AfCFTA work. We must trade among ourselves.”

Mr. Osafo-Maafo said this on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the fourth Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) at the Movenpick Hotel, Accra.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo, in explaining the need for Ghana to gear up for trading activities with other African states, observed that, “Trading means you must have something to sell; if you have a continental free trade and Ghana has nothing to sell, then we are going to be spectators.”

The Senior Minster said, for intra-African trade to be successful, Africans must go into manufacturing and add value to their produce, insisting that, “We can’t sell raw materials because we are producing similar materials.”

In that regard,Mr. Osafo-Maafo said for manufacturing to succeed in Africa, there was the need to advance in technology, gain a good capital base and go into research to determine which products held the most promise, among others.

“We expect the whole of Africa to take advantage of AfCFTA and go into production so that we can have enough to sell to other parts of the world. This is the only way we can resolve our unemployment problem; AfCFTA is there to aid this because it is providing a bigger market…” the Senior Minister informed.

In that sense, he indicated that trade facilitation, which removed all bottlenecks when Africans wanted to trade among themselves, became relevant, wondering why people had to go through so much stress before they could export their products to other markets.

He therefore called for the digitization of the trading process, which would remove human interference’s and allow trading to go on smoothly. “Then we are preparing ourselves for AfCFTA,” he said.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo asked African governments to ensure that they prioritized investment in road, rail, sea and air transport, which would greatly improve the sturdy flow of goods and services within the continent.

He further insisted that trade policies not only be made friendlier but attractive, adding that “You don’t have policies when people impose their own rules in between because of corruption; your policies must remove human interventions and have technology determine the flow of your goods and services.”

The Senior Minister admonished African governments to ensure they pursued policies that allowed politics to go along side economics in order to create prosperity for the people of the continent.

He praised the GITFiC initiative by saying the annual conference brought to the fore some problems the continent faced as a means of helping to find solutions to them.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo charged the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, government departments and institutions, management and civil society organizations, etc. to form alliances,which was anchored on Government’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid in order to help achieve it.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo also asked them to“preach, by extension, the Africa Beyond Aid concept, which would provoke a-skill-development drive, an entrepreneurial acumen; build a resilient ecosystem of supply chain, attract required investment and financing, encourage inclusion by all members of the city and Ghana in general in producing quality and desirable goods for Africa.”

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