Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has called on African countries to build their domestic production capacities in order to fully benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
She made the call at the third AfCFTA Council of ministers meeting held in on Friday November 20, 2020.
According to her, “For African countries to benefit fully from the AFCFTA, efforts must be deployed by policy makers to build domestic production capacity through initiatives, which will empower the private sector to be competitive and export oriented.”
“Let me point out that without a strategy to increase the volume of trade, the benefits of the AFCFTA will not be guaranteed,” she said.
The meeting presented the State Parties of the AFCFTA an opportunity to address issues concerning the operationalization of the customs provisions in the AfCFTA Agreement; the Protocol on Trade in Goods and related annexes on Tariff Reduction Schedules, Rules of Origin, Trade Facilitation, Transit and other matters related to border clearance.
“Progress on these pertinent matters will be crucial to the start of trading and the creation of the single African market for trade, investment and the socio-economic transformation of the Continent as well as the realization of the Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want,” the Minister said.
She said “the inadequacies of our respective economies have prevented our effective participation in global trade. While many reasons account for this state of affairs, it is largely because we have not instituted the proper frameworks, which promote trade among ourselves. Inspite of well-intentioned programmes adopted to boost intra-African trade, trading among African countries is still low and stands at about 16 % compared to 51% in Asia and 54% in Europe.”
Agenda 2063, she stated, recognised that for a prosperous Africa anchored on inclusive growth and sustainable development to become a reality, there was the need for African governments to garner the necessary political will to integrate the AfCFTA objectives into national and regional development plans and programmes.
“I am confident that your deliberations during this meeting will contribute to the development of strategies to accelerate economic integration at the continental level.
This is an opportune time for us to undertake reforms of our customs regulations and enhance our trade facilitation in order to derive the maximum benefit from the AFCFTA,” she said.
To support integration on the Continent, she stated that Ghana has introduced visa-on–arrival for AU nationals in furtherance of her commitment to the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment.
“We hope that this bold step will facilitate the implementation of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and encourage other African countries to honour their commitment to the Protocol.”
The meeting was chaired by Ghana’s Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyeremanten.
By Melvin Tarlue