Parliament has approved the choice of Ghana as the host country for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat (AfCFTA) in Accra.
A report of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee says Ghana will secure premises for the secretariat and furnish it, as well as provide the necessary security.
According to the report, the date for the operationalization of the agreement has been moved to January 1, 2021, instead of the July 1 deadline due to the impact of COVID-19.
The AfCTA is an agreement among some African countries aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments, to accelerate the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African Customs Union.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, told Parliament efforts are underway to get the Secretariat ready for work.
“What we are doing is opening the door for the Secretariat to start operations. The Secretary General and his team, the first team to kick start operations will arrive in the country sometime this month of August. Indeed, it is true that we had to postpone it from March to August and also the operations of the secretariat. The trading has been postponed to January, but we are on course. AfCFTA is the largest trading block since the WTO made up of fifty five member states with a market of 1.2 billion people. This affords us a great opportunity for Africa to take its rightful place where trading is concerned”, she said.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchway stressed the need for Ghana and other member countries to take advantage of the initiative to be able to trade effectively.
“It is a fact that Intra African Trade is unimpressive if you compare it to what happens in Asia and other places, so we are very happy that this is happening and for Ghana to host this secretariat , I think that we need to take advantage of all the opportunities that it presents us”.