Maximize Full benefits from African Continental Free Trade Area – Foreign Minister to Chamber of Commerce

Following the election of a new President and Executives of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber sought audience with the Hon. Minister to introduce the newly-elected Executives on Tuesday, 10th November, 2020

The Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey welcomed the Executives of the Chamber to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Congratulated the Chamber for holding a successful election, and also the newly-elected President and Executives.

The Minister reminded the new executives the cordial working relations between the Ministry and the Chamber as a stakeholder in promoting trade and investment in Ghana.

She said that the Economic, Trade and Investment Bureau of the Ministry was purposely re-established to serve the business interests of the Ghanaian private sector, indicating satisfaction at the level of cooperation so far between the Ministry, through ECTIB, and the Chamber.

The commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1st January, 2021, stating that the role of the private sector is critical if Ghana is to maximize the full benefits of the agreement and the opportunities presented by a continental market size of 1.2 billion with a GDP of $ 3 trillion;

Stated that the Ghanaian private sector stands tall among its peers on the continent, particularly in the West Africa region and urged them to leverage on the numerous flagship projects currently being implemented by the NPP government to give a true meaning to H.E. the President’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid;

Indicated that the stable environment in Ghana and the presence of the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra are likely to act as pull factors for Foreign Direct Investment, which will require local partnerships and encouraged the private sector to take advantage of such opportunities;

Urged the leadership of the Chamber to spread the news of the AfCFTA to their membership at the regional and district levels to enable them participate fully in its implementation;

Stated that it is important for the private sector to understand that the AfCFTA is, in simple terms, a homegrown solution to over century-old trade problems, which have been limiting African countries from trading among themselves;

Highlighted some of the negative impacts of the closure of Nigeria’s land borders to Ghanaian exports since 2019 on businesses of their members. Informed them that the last high level official meeting held on 3rd September, 2020, in Abuja between the two countries agreed to form a joint Ministerial Committee to seek solutions to issues affecting trade between the two countries, including the closure;

Reference to the impact of COVID-19 on Ghanaian businesses, the Minister mentioned the Government’s COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Programme to mitigate the effects.

She revealed that the CARES Programme has a two-step phase, namely, a stabilisation phase and a revitalisation phase. State that under the stabilization phase, the Government is extending the duration or coverage of some of the programmes already put in place to provide relief and support to Ghanaians like ensuring food security, protecting businesses and workers, strengthening the health system as well as easing the burden on businesses through the issuance of a monetary policy standard and regulatory regime;

Further disclosed the Government’s decision to extend the provision of free water supply for another three months as well as increase funding to the CAP-BuSS Programme being run by the National Board for Small Scale Industries, in order to expand support to the millions of Ghanaians in the micro, small, and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) sector;

Informed that the Revitalisation phase is focussed on accelerating the Ghana Beyond Aid economic transformation agenda through initiatives like the “Planting for Food and Jobs” and “Rearing for Food and Jobs” programmes;

In the area of funding, she said that Government is in consultation with the Bank of Ghana and other banks to establish a Guarantee Scheme of up to GH¢2.0 billion to enable businesses to borrow from banks at more affordable rates and at longer tenure; and

She finally Assured them that the Ministry, together with its Missions Abroad, will continue to leverage on the tools of economic diplomacy to project and promote Ghanaian exports abroad. This will guarantee a ready market for the Ghanaian private sector.