Former President, John Dramani Mahama, has urged all African countries to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He stated that partaking in the free trade area will help develop their economies, as well as, stay competitive on the market; both locally and internationally.
John Mahama who was speaking at a virtual forum on Thursday, October 13, 2022, John Dramani Mahama said, “We must advantage of AfCFTA, grow our values and get ready for increased international trade.”
His keynote address at the Abuja Forum 2022 China-Africa: Unified Engagement Towards Durable Peace and Common Prosperity, centered on the evolving Africa-China Agenda: What to expect, how to respond.
“China is Africa’s largest trading partner. Last year, it was estimated that trade between the China and Africa grew by 35% and reached a whopping $256 billion. China’s main imports from Africa includes minerals, metals, crude oil, and agricultural products. It’s main exports to Africa include industrial goods, construction material, textiles, electronics, household goods, machinery and equipment, vehicles, and food products.”…he observed.
Former President John Mahama also noted with concern that between 2000 and 2017, China lent to African countries about $147 billion in long term financing. During that period, it also wrote-off about $3.4 billion and restructured almost $15 billion in debts to African countries.
He said there is a huge trade imbalance that must be fixed through deeper collaboration among African Counctries.
“African imports from China amount to roughly $148 billion, while exports from Africa to China is estimated at roughly $106 billion. It is important to work together to bridge this trade deficit. With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) taking off and looking positive, the trade experts are predicting that it will further bolster free trade between the continent and China”
He called on African countries, with the support of China to leverage on investments to reduce the over-dependence on exporting natural resources and create added value for African products.
This he said can be done through building the manufacturing capacity, especially in light industry for food processing, textiles, garments, and leather goods.
“African countries must get to work, with the support of China to reduce our over-dependence on exporting our natural resources and create added value for African products. African countries must work with China to build manufacturing capacity, especially in light industry for food processing, textiles, garments, and leather goods.”
Meanwhile, Ghana, Egpyt, Cameroon, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya are the 7 countries participating in AfCFTA.
The products traded include ceramic tiles, car batteries, pharmaceuticals, palm kernel oil, coffee, rubber, tea, components for air conditioners, among others.
AfCFTA was introduced in 2018 with the aim of creating a single market for Africa, as well as, ensuring the free movement of goods and services on the continent.
This free movement of goods and services will help expand Intra-African trade.
This implies that goods will be sold at a relatively cheaper price because of the increase in production which will, in turn, create both direct and indirect jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.
The free trade area also provides traders and importers an opportunity to stay competitive.
Businesses when conducted in a free and safe environment will help reduce poverty in member states as well as create sustainable development.