Ghana is seeking the support of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its bid to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as it prepares to commence operations.
Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, made the proposal of continental free trade initiative at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament Delocalised Joint Committee Meeting in Accra, Ghana.She said her country had since its independence in 1957 committed so much to Africa’s unity to deserve hosting the AfCFTA.
Her words: “Our government has decided to and has, indeed, formally expressed its interest to have Ghana host the Secretariat of AfCFTA here in Accra. “We are of the firm belief that Ghana’s history and credentials on Pan-Africanism, and its continuous commitment to the ideals and values of the African Union (AU) will make the country to qualify as a worthy member state of AU to host the Secretariat.
“I wish, therefore, to request for support of Ghana’s candidature in your respective capitals,” she said.She recalled the important roles Ghana played in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now AU, lamenting however that, in spite of these efforts, Ghana was yet to host any AU’s organ or agency.
“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 OAU, now the AU, it does not host any of its organ or agency. “Thus, by offering to host the AfCFTA Secretariat, Ghana is reinforcing her commitment to Africa’s Integration Agenda. I trust that we can count on your support and that of your countries for the success of our bid,” she added.
The AfCFTA is a planned free trade area, outlined in the AfCFTA among 49 of the 55 AU nations. If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries, since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).The agreement was brokered by the AU and was adopted by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
The agreement initially required members to remove tariffs from 90 per cent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.