GHANA AND seven other African countries have commenced trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to test the readiness of participating state parties under the agreement.
The other countries are Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Egypt, Mauritius, Cameroon and Tunisia.
The initiative seeks to test the operational, institutional, legal, and trade policy environment under AfCFTA.
It also aims to demonstrate that the AfCFTA trading documentations are operational and viable and confirm the readiness of Customs and Revenue Authorities of the participating countries to process imports and exports.
It is also expected to serve as a gateway to encourage continued trade under the AfCFTA, resulting in a multiplier effect and increased opportunities for SMEs, youth and women in trade and ultimately establishing sustainable and inclusive economic development.
At least 96 different products including horticultural products, pharmaceuticals, rubber, aluminum kitchenware, sugar, steel, and wooden products from the eight countries can now be freely traded under the AfCFTA rules.
These products originating from Africa will enjoy duty-free and quota-free trading among the partnering countries.
Launching the guided trade initiative in Accra, Secretary-General of AfCFTA Wamkele Mene, said, “this is the moment the founding mothers and fathers of the Organisation of African Unity have longed (for). We have finally honored and made reality the vision of those who liberated our continent.”
“We are connecting East Africa to West Africa, North Africa to Southern Africa. Trade will be the driver of inclusivity, creating opportunities for young Africans. So we have taken the first journey today, and I hope in 15 years, we will have succeeded in lifting millions and millions of Africans out of poverty.”
He said it is more than just a legal test and more than just ratification because it is Africa’s economic development at stake.
“I am extremely proud that we are able to demonstrate to ourselves as Africans that we have the capacity and inclination to achieve this,” he said.
Mr. Mene announced that more and more state parties are expressing interest as they conclude the process of domesticating the AfCFTA in their law.
BY Jamila Akweley Okertchiri