Ghana eyes AfCFTA secretariat
The Ghanaian parliament has ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, a move the country said will enhance its chances of being selected to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Analysts point out that the process leading to the final selection of the host country had already begun and a formal decision on the matter is to be taken at the next summit of the heads of African state and government in July 2018.
The agreement creates a single market for goods and services facilitated by the free movement of persons in order to deepen the economic interest of the African continent in accordance with the pan African vision.
It is expected to come into force when the parliaments of at least 22 out of the 55 African countries ratify the agreement.
Ghana’s parliament was recalled from recess last Thursday to among other things, consider and ratify the agreement as Ghana lobbies to host the Secretariat for the AfCFTA.
African heads and governments in 2012 agreed to the establishment of a continental free trade but only started negotiations in 2015.
Expected to be signed by all the 55-member states of the African Union, the agreement will bring 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion.
Interestingly, Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy failed to sign the framework for the agreement due to major concerns raised by the country’s labour unions.
The Nigerian government explained the move was “to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders”.
The draft agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, with 10 per cent of “sensitive items” to be phased in later.
The agreement will also liberalise services and aims to tackle so-called “non-tariff barriers” which hamper trade between African countries, such as long delays at the border.
This will eventually ensure free movement of people and possibly a single currency could become part of the free trade area.