President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has argued that African Continental Free Trade Area would be the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Centre.
According to the president, the free trade area, which would be hosted in Ghana, will serve as a vehicle to enhance trade among Africans
President Akufo-Addo made the remarks when he addressed the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations on Wednesday.
He further indicated that hosting the trade area will help Africans exploit their wealth and resources to their won benefit.
He said: ‘’The African Continental Free Trade Area, which recently came into effect, and whose Secretariat Ghana has the honour of hosting, is a major, collective effort by Africa to get to grips with mastery of her own development. It will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and will provide the vehicle for us to trade better more among ourselves; offer an opportunity to exploit our abundant wealth and resources for the benefit of our peoples; and give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks. ‘’
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at its last sitting selected Ghana as the host country for the Secretariat of the African Continental (AfCFTA) Free Trade Area.
The decision was announced at the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger, after Ghana beat-off competition from Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal.
Primarily, the Secretariat is charged with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which has been ratified by 25 member states.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his acceptance speech during the closing session of the Summit, thanked the Assembly for the decision, stating that “it is a privilege that, for the first time in our nation’s history, we have the responsibility of hosting an important pan-African institution”. He expressed his gratitude to President Macky Sall of Senegal for stepping down Senegal’s candidature in favour of Ghana, and acknowledged also similar gestures of solidarity from the leaders of Egypt and Ethiopia.
President Akufo-Addo applauded member states that have deposited their instruments of ratification at the AU Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, and praised Nigeria’s decision to sign-up to the Agreement. “The adhesion of Nigeria to the Free Trade Area has enhanced considerably its prospects of success,” he said. With the AfCFTA now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, it will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the Agreement.
“We have, today, taken very important steps towards working with a common voice and a common purpose to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our peoples. Indeed, the ‘Africa We Want’ is achievable,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo assured his colleague Heads of State that Ghana would put all the requisite facilities at the disposal of the Secretariat to ensure it operated as a world-class organisation.
In addition, and in pursuant to the Statutes of the AU Commission, he indicated that the Secretariat shall enjoy the privileges and immunities stipulated in the OAU General Convention on Privileges and Immunities, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities, and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Vienna Convention between States and International Organisations or between International Organisations.