The Leadership of Parliament has underscored the need for African countries to harmonize their trade regulations and avoid individual country protectionism measures in order to bring to fruition the much anticipated Free Trade Area on the continent.
The issue gained currency on the Floor of Parliament on Tuesday, July 07, 2020 when the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Habibu Tinjani made a statement to commemorate the maiden celebration of the African Integration Day which will be marked every July 7.
Contributing to the statement on the Floor, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu cautioned that even as Africa is still at the cross roads in its quest and efforts to integrate and to use the facilitation of trade and investment to spur the growth of development on the African continent, the culture of protectionism will kill the objectives spelt out in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) before it is even rolled out fully.
“Mr. Speaker, my first suggestion is that there is still fragmentation in Africa. We need to eliminate monopoly in Africa, we would need to improve infrastructure in Africa, we need to harmonize regulations in Africa, and more importantly, we need to avoid protectionism,” he cautioned.
The Minority Leader who was once a Minister for Trade in the else while John Mahama administration, bemoaned the low level of intra-African trade in spite of the efforts to integrated and quoted some statistics to support his position. According to him, the 2017 intra-African trade was at 16.6 percent, compared to 68 percent in Europe, and 59 percent in Asia.
He for instance, brought to the fore the unbalanced trade relations that exists between Ghana and Nigeria, which are two major countries of influence in the West African sub-region.
“If you take for instance Nigeria, Dangote Cement is in Ghana flourishing well. I recall the kind of incentives and support we gave that company. The essence of AfCTA is for companies and countries to help each other and to trade together. If you go to Nigeria, they still have listed commodities that cannot enter Nigeria from Ghana. How do you promote free African trade with this attitude and with this behavior?”
The Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on his part also called out their West African neighbor for jeopardizing the gains to be made through the continental free trade area by over protecting its markets from the penetration of goods and services from Ghana.
“Today our colleagues, our sisters and brothers from Nigeria would want to penetrate our Ghanaian market, but conversely they are refusing to accept produces from Ghana. And indeed apart from the listed produces and commodities that they insist they are not going to allow into the Nigeria, you have physical barriers which they mount.
“Mr. Speaker, between the Nigeria Benin borders, if one travels by road to Lagos, you will have to cross 27 barriers. How do you promote trade in that manner? Between our own Western borders in the Western Region to Abidjan, Mr. Speaker, there are 17 barriers. How do you promote trade with this? So, the African Heads of State and government will have been told that we need to get rid of these barriers if we are minded to promote trade,” he observed.
Source: Clement Akoloh || parliamentnews360.com