Maxwell Awumah, GNA Special Correspondent, Courtesy UNECA
Niamey, Niger, Dec 5, GNA - Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry at the weekend said the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) framework, yet to gain legitimacy, would change the narrative of Africa being dependent economies to a regime of trade and investments to reinforce regional integration.
He said the CFTA therefore would hone the regional integration processes adding value to local industries, induce competition and create the requisite jobs for the continents’ youth to curb the phenomenon of migrating in search of non-existent jobs elsewhere.
Mr Kyerematen was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the fourth African Ministers of Trade Conference in Niamey, Niger.
It was to conclude the outstanding issues of the Modalities for Tariff Liberalisation that were adopted at the third Meeting of AU Ministers of Trade in June 2017 and consider the draft texts of the CFTA Agreement, protocols, annexes and appendixes, expected to come to fruition by the close of 2017.
He said a number of technical studies undertaken by the various regional and international agencies have identified some challenges affecting trade and investments in Africa, including transportation connectivity by air, sea, rail and road as well as telecommunication infrastructure.
Mr Kyerematen emphasised that challenges of variety of products to trade-off was problematic but notwithstanding these, African countries have make giant strides with the current situation to boost intra-continental trade.
He said trade in manufactured goods among African countries with value-addition constituted 49 per cent among African countries, an indication that a solid foundation has already been laid with the challenge being the lack of market information as well as “Who is producing what.”
Mr Kyerematen said government’s One-District-One Factory initiative targeted at decentralizing industrialization with the private sector playing a critical role, fits into the CFTA concept with more access to diversified products to stimulate intra-African trade.
He said Ghana makes far less than 10 percent from cocoa exports, a raw material for the chocolate industry worth over 90 billion dollars for which the country and Cote D’Ivoire jointly produces 65 percent of global commodity.
The Minister said the value of cocoa is at the end of the value-chain and with a take-off of the CFTA, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire would no longer sell raw cocoa beans in that magnitude but begin to add-value to the production line, moving into tertiary finished products, which eventually would be consumed in Africa.
Mr Kyerematen said these initiatives would create real jobs for the teeming youth but the thorny issues of finance, machinery and expertise would be tackled to make the CFTA the engine of industrial growth, wealth creation and generate the needed trade among African countries.GNA