A flagbearer hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has admonished Ghana and Zimbabwe to immediately scale up trade among themselves under the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) considering the economic distress they are experiencing.
According to him, the impact of the global economic recession on the two countries gave credence to calls for Accra and Harare to find solutions to their own problems.
One such solution, he noted, was to increase trade volumes among themselves since there existed many opportunities that could be explored to achieve that feat.
“This event is occurring at a period when the whole world finds itself in a state of economic distress. It presents an opportunity for us to find lasting solutions to our challenges. If you look at the share of intra-Africa exports as a percentage of total African exports, it tells us that internal trade on the continent is a must,” he noted.
Speaking as the guest of honour at the Zimbabwe-Ghana Business Forum which opened in Accra, on Monday and ended yesterday, the immediate-past Minister of Food and Agriculture further noted that the volume of trade among countries within the African continent was too small compared to the total global trade.
Statistics from the AfCTA show that trade between Ghana and Zimbabwe stood at just a little over US$3 million in 2022.
Worried about this development, he called for Africa to increase trade among its countries using the framework of the AfCTA which was the panacea to resolving some of the challenges faced when trading within the African continent.
“It might have taken us decades to get there, but at least progress has been made,” he added.
To Dr Afriyie Akoto, who is also a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwadaso Constituency in the Ashanti Region, lack of initiative and mere rhetoric had been the bane of many African countries, expressing the belief that with the establishment of the AfCTA, those challenges could be a thing of the past.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ghana, Dr Kufa Edward Chinoza in his opening remarks was hopeful that with initiatives such as the AfCTA, trade agreement and business linkages through such fora, there would be a change in the current situation.
He urged ZimTrade and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) to work hand-in-hand and provide the business communities of the two countries with real time data and market intelligence to assist them make informed decisions if they wanted diversity and explore new markets.
“These initiatives can, indeed, lead to increased trade between our two countries,” said Ambassador Chinoza.
Also speaking at the forum was the AfCTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, who told the gathering that trade between Ghana and Zimbabwe was critical for two main reasons; that Zimbabwe was the fifth largest producer of globally sought-after lithium and a significant grain producer on the continent.
“Zimbabwe produces over $200 million worth of excess grain per year, thus the capacity to feed southern Africa and the rest of the continent is there. This is critical in the face of food insecurity due to geopolitical tensions. Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire are the largest producers of cocoa. As such AfCTA presents an opportunity for you to trade on favourable and preferential terms. Before AfCTA, Zimbabwe and Ghana had to trade using the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Exports from each other’s markets would be competing with exports from third-party countries in the markets in Ghana and in Zimbabwe,” he said.