Senior Minister, Dr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has said the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) depends on every African country having something to trade to the rest of the continent.
He said while the free trade area agreement is long overdue, African countries need to emphasise manufacturing and value addition.
He said while other intra-continental trade zones like Europe and the Americas are recording annual trade volumes of 60% to 70% of total trade volumes, intra-Africa trade remains a meagre 2%, per 2016/2017 figures.
“We have a long way to go to make the agreement work. We must work and trade among ourselves. Others are doing 70% and we are doing 2%. So, we need definitely to do more,” he said.
The Senior Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day 4th Ghana International Conference on Trade & Finance on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
“This trading system [AfCFTA] is good, and trading normally means that you must have something to sell…If we have continental free trade and Ghana has no product to sell, then we are going to be a spectator.
“And when we talk about intra-Africa trade, we can’t sell raw materials. Ghana has cocoa, Cote d'Ivoire has cocoa, we are not going to sell cocoa to Cote’ d'Ivoire,” he said.
Dr Osafo-Maafo’s views on how AfCFTA can be successful are similar to those of Economist, Dr Lord Mensah of the University of Ghana Business School.
Dr Lord Mensah told GhanaWeb that while the thinking behind AfCFTA is very good, he struggles to see the continental free trade agreement, expected to start in January 2021, achieving its objectives.
The Economist told GhanaWeb that many African countries do not seem to have one particular product that they can break into other African markets with.
“For a successful AfCFTA, countries must also have a product that they are keen on taking to other parts of the continent,” Dr Mensah had said.