President of Ghana and Chairman, Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to the ECOWAS Commission, Nana Akufo-Addo, has said that African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, is the major platform for creating a single continental market for goods and services in the region.
Akufo-Addo stated that an increase in intra-regional trade in Africa is one of the surest ways to develop fruitful relations between our respective countries.
ECOWAS Chairperson stated this during his official working visit to the ECOWAS commission headquarters on Monday in Abuja, two weeks after he was elected the chair of the commission.
He said, “AfCFTA is the major platform for creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union.
“We all know that an increase in intra-regional trade in Africa is one of the surest ways to develop fruitful relations between our respective countries. It will lead to a rapid increase in exchange of our agricultural, financial, industrial, scientific and technological products, which would enhance dramatically our attainment of prosperity, and the prospects of employment for the broad masses of Africans, particularly our youth, as our economies would then be shaped not by the production and export of raw materials, but by the things we make and grow.
“At the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Niamey, capital of the Republic of Niger, Ghana was selected by her peers to play host to the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. A little over a month ago, I commissioned and handed over the AfCFTA Secretariat Building to the African Union. I thank, once again, all ECOWAS Member States and the ECOWAS Commission for the support given to Ghana in her bid to host the Secretariat of AfCFTA.”
The AfCFTA is the major platform for creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union.
The AfCFTA, which entered into force on 30 May 2019, will create a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of three trillion United States dollars (US$3 trillion), across all fifty-five (55) Member States of the African Union.
Akufo-Addo asserted that ECOWAS stands to gain tremendously from participating in the Free Trade Area, which comes into operation on 1st January 2021.
He said, although all ECOWAS Member States have signed the AfCFTA agreement, five Member States are yet to ratify the Agreement, adding that ECOWAS Commission and ECOWAS Parliament should continue to engage the authorities of these countries on the ratification of the agreement.
“In spite of the fact that AfCFTA negotiations are Member State-driven, the Commission should continue to co-ordinate the positions of our member States in the AfCFTA negotiations, taking into consideration existing obligations in Community Agreements, in line with Article 85 of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, which requires ECOWAS Member States to formulate and adopt common positions within the Community on issues relating to international negotiations with third parties, in order to promote and safeguard the interests of the Region” he stated.