The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat has started making plans for the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative, which will take place on September 26, 2022, with a familiarization visit to three (3) enterprises in Ghana’s Western Region.
The AfCFTA Secretariat unveiled the AfCFTA Initiative on Guided Trade on July 25, 2022, involving Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia to provisionally and commercially begin trading under the AfCFTA on a pilot basis to test the environmental, legal, and trade policy foundation for trading under the agreement.
As part of preparations towards the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative, the AfCFTA Secretariat in collaboration with Ghana’s National (AfCFTA) Coordination Office and a team drawn from the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ghana, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and a volunteered logistics company organized its first visit to three (3) companies in Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana from and the Port of Takoradi to engage management of the selected companies on their products, volumes of export, operations, knowledge about the AfCFTA, level of interest in trading under the continental agreement and readiness to be part of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative and also to afford the companies the opportunity to satisfy the requirement to trade under the AfCFTA.
The team first called at the office of the Western Regional Minister at the Regional Coordinating Council to brief him on the mission. The head of the 18-member delegation led by Hon. Dr. Ato Panford who is the senior advisor in charge of Enterprise Audit with the Ghana National (AfCFTA) Coordination Office explained that “the objective of this mission was to engage management of the selected companies with regard to expected requirements under the AfCFTA rules”.
The Western Regional Minister Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensa applauded the initiative by the AfCFTA Secretariat and the National (AfCFTA) Coordination office for the efforts being made to make the vision of creating a Single African Market a reality and in particular choosing companies from the Western Region of Ghana to be part of the historic AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative.
The delegation called on the Keda Ghana Ceramics Company Limited (Twyford) which is a leading tile manufacturing company in Africa producing all kinds of floor and wall tiles, abrasion resistant tiles with a staff strength of about 2,500 and located in Shama city in the Western Region of Ghana.
The Managing Director of Lorry Li Keda Ghana Ceramics Company Limited (Twyford)assured that their raw materials are mainly from Ghana, and also responded positively to the series of enquiries by the delegation which were geared towards preparing the company to be illegible to trade under the AfCFTA rules.
The Management of Keda Ghana Ceramics Company Limited (Twyford) expressed its readiness to take advantage of Africa’s trading agreement and thus expressed pride to be part of the first AfCFTA Guided Trade.
The Guided Trade Mission Team then headed to the Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd (GREL) which has 13,093 hectares of land planted with rubber and a total of 9,555 hectares under tapping. GREL is the largest company in Ghana’s rubber industry and the only natural rubber producer with 95% production and exports 95% of its rubber produced. With the objective to develop rubber as an industrial crop in Ghana with improved planting materials and best practices, the company says they seek to harness the potential of the largest free trade area in the world, created under the AfCFTA.
The company demonstrated its readiness to trade under the AfCFTA through the guided trade initiative, by providing encouraging responses to significant trading rules under the agreement following a banter with the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, AfCFTA Secretariat and the National AfCFTA Coordination Office.
With a significant market share in Egypt, GREL is hopeful to satisfy necessary requirements to enable them take part in the first guided trade shipment under the AfCFTA.
At Benso Oil Palm Plantation, a wholly Ghanaian company which processes palm fruits into crude palm oil and listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange since April 16, 2004, the Executive Director Finance of the Company Mr. Benjamin Appiah-Manuh described AfCFTA as the game changer they have long being waiting for.
The Guided Trade Mission Team also described the company’s readiness to take advantage of the AfCFTA as impressive.
With high potential market in Kenya, Benso Oil Palm Plantation says they can’t wait to be part of the first companies to trade under the AfCFTA-led Guided Trade Initiative.
The team followed with a courtesy call to the Port of Takoradi, Ghana’s main export-led port, handling over 70% of Ghana’s export including manganese, bauxite, timber, cocoa, ruber, palm etc.
Director of the Port of Takoradi, Captain Ebenezer Afedzi assured the team of the port’s readiness to be part of the historic event of facilitating the shipment of the first consignment of goods from Ghana under the AfCFTA’s Guided Trade Initiative, slated for September 26, 2022.
The AfCFTA Secretariat-led delegation hopes to continue to engage the companies, the ports and all actors needed to make the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative a success come 26th September 2022.
Indeed, with the first familiarization and preparatory visits to these companies ahead of the first official AfCFTA Guided Trade shipment on 26th September 2022, the door to the largest free trade area in the world, created by 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP, valued at US$3.4 trillion just opened much more wider than ever.