Mr Alan Kyeremanten, the Minister for Trade and Industry, has reiterated the full commitment of Ghana to the continental free trade agenda aimed to boost intra-African trade and to grow the economies of the countries.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency after the opening session of the first ever Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Cairo on Tuesday, Mr Kyeremanten lauded Ghana’s role as a major player in Africa politics and economic development and in also leading efforts to develop the continental free trade agreement.
“We were one of the first to sign the agreement and one of the first countries to ratify it. There could be no better testimony than this in terms of our commitment to promoting intra-African trade,” the Minister said.
Organised by Afreximbank, in collaboration with the African Union, and hosted by the Government of Egypt, the trade fair is expected to bring more than 70,000 visitors over the seven days.
The fair comes after the successful signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, which seeks to enhance trade and economic growth across Africa.
The key objectives of the IATF is to be a platform for sharing trade, investment and market information and enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals worth of $ 25 billion over the course of seven days.
This, in turn, is expected to contribute to Afreximbank’s goal of increasing intra-African trade volume from $ 170 billion in 2014 to the US $ 250 billion by 2021, thereby ensuring that trade among African countries reaches 22% of Africa’s total trade by 2021.
Mr Kyeremanten, who is leading Ghana’s delegation at the Fair, said the significance of the intra-Africa trade exhibition is that “even before the agreement comes into effect, Africa is working together to show the world and to also actually demonstrate to ourselves as African countries that we mean business when we talk about creating a single market.”
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement needs ratification from 22 countries to come into force. Already, 12 countries had underscored their confidence in the agreement by ratifying it.
Over 20 Ghanaian exhibitors are showcasing various products, including cocoa products, handicrafts, and Ghanaian designed clothing.
“So I am excited that Ghana is fully here represented and apart from the private companies that are showcasing their products, we also have all the private sector support institutions and public sector agencies, which are helping with export and investments,” Mr Kyeremanten said.
He said significant progress had been made in the free trade agenda with close to 50 countries signing the deal.
“I still think that it is significant progress. These are decisions that are made at the national level and so it is our hope that every African country sign up to it. The important thing is that majority of the countries have signed up to it and the good thing is that you don’t need all the countries to sign before it becomes operational.
“The important thing is to send a strong signal once the agreement becomes effective and those who have not yet ratified it I am sure would join later,” he added.
Mr Sandy Osei Agyeman, Board Chairman GEPA, said he was looking forward to networking and meeting potential investors and participants from other countries to see how best Ghana can sell her products in each of these countries.
He said a continental Free Trade Area should open up the market wider as all trade barriers, which is the biggest challenge in trading on the continent, are removed.
“I think that with the continental free trade coming along, this should help and I think it is the beginning of us getting to know ourselves as businesses, so we can grow our economy,” Mr Agyeman added