The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Policy Network (APN) has called for trading to start to keep up the momentum among member countries.
Mr Louis Yaw Afful, Executive Director of APN, and a trade practitioner said even though AfCFTA had the potential to rake in some three trillion dollars for the continent, since it takes off in January 2021, not much trading had taken place under it.
Mr. Afful speaking at a forum on the topic: “the role of the youth in trade, security and maritime under continental trading,” noted that it has been reported that in Ghana only two shipments have been successfully completed since the trade officially began.
He said one of the reasons accounting for the delay has to do with the progress for the finalisation of the rules of origin which currently stand at 87.13 per cent.
“At 87.13 percent rules of origin, I think we should start trading. Those who are ready should start,” he said adding that “When people have anticipation, after a period when their expectations are not met, it dwindles.”
He explained that rules of origin were the criteria needed to determine the nationality of a product, to support preferential trade liberalization.
He maintained that trading must commence and expressed the fear that the momentum demonstrated by the trading public might dwindle with time.
The APN Executive Director, also mentioned that another challenge was customs management and procedures, as party states were supposed to pass their legislative instruments to enforce the agreement, which he noted was however slow.
“Some do not have legislative instruments to enforce this customs management and procedures around their ports. They will say they have agreed and goods can be traded, but when you go down to the ground you realize that nothing shows they are ready,” he stated.
The trade practitioner also supported the call for a single customs union for Africa to support trading efforts within the continent, explaining that talks were underway to establish that as part of the Single Africa Market masterplan stating however that it was unclear when that would be officially established and the accompanying modalities.
“It is part of the holistic One Africa Market which is in stages. The first is the Free Trade Area where we are, then follows with one Customs Union and then one currency,” he indicated.
According to him, the vision to have one customs union feeds into the preamble that established the agreement which says there would be customs management and cooperation.