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Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana’s Foreign Minister has requested for the support of the ECOWAS Parliament as Ghana bids to host the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This she did while addressing the ECOWAS Parliament during the just ended ECOWAS Parliament Joint Committee Delocalised Meeting, which held in Accra, Ghana.
This edition of the Delocalised Meeting, which forms part of ECOWAS Parliament’s effort to involve member states in its activities focused on the –Committee on Trade, Finance, Customs and Free Movement of Goods and Persons. “Our Government has decided to and has, indeed, formally expressed its interest to have Ghana host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), here in Accra.
“We are of the firm belief that Ghana’s history and credentials on Pan-Africanism, and her continuous commitment to the ideals and values of the African Union will make her a worthy Member State of the African Union to host the Secretariats.”
While touting Ghana’s credentials, she reflected on the roles the Ghana government has played over the years in support of the idea of a fully integrated Africa. She encouraged Parliamentarians present to support the candidature of Ghana in their respective countries.
In spite of Ghana’s enviable contribution to the advancement of the African Union (AU), Ghana, she says, does not play host to any agency of the AU.
She states, “In requesting your support for Ghana’s bid. I wish to explain that in spite of Ghana’s pioneering role as a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), she (Ghana) does not play host to any organ or agency of the African Union.
“Thus, by offering to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Ghana is reinforcing her commitment to the African Integration Agenda.
“I trust that we can count on your full support and the support of your countries for the success of our bid,” she said.
Ghana had earlier indicated her interest to host AfCFTA during the extraordinary summit, which held in Kigali Rwanda where she (Ghana) joined 43 other countries to sign to the African trade agreement in March 2018.
AfCFTA will cover an estimated market size of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. This makes it the largest free trade area in the world.
The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
Earlier in April, AU met the condition required to kickstart the free trade agreement after Gambian parliament ratified the agreement making it the 22nd nation. The minimum number required to operationalise the agreement. 15 of the 22 nations, which have ratified this agreement, have submitted ratification documents at the AU headquarters. Upon submission of all 22 nations, the free trade will be operational within one month.
Former Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA Carlos Lopes, describes this as “an absolute record for these type of agreements Comparing it to similar agreements from other continents, which take longer to achieve.
Source: Iposu Elijah Oluwakayode || ghananewsonline.com.gh, Accra