MEMBERS OF Parliament (MPs) have called on countries in the African Union, particularly those in the West African sub-region, to promote free trade and cooperate on building an open economy to fan efforts to shore up African integration agenda.
The MPs believe closer cooperation in areas of trade and economy among the bloc will spur growth and development in the continent.
Contributing to a statement by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mohammad Habibu Tijani, on Africa Integration Day celebration, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, pointed out that Africa was still at the crossroad in its quest and effort to use the facilitation of trade and investment spurred on the growth.
“As we discuss the subject, we need to be mindful of the fact that the less or under developed African countries may suffer negatively the consequence of trade liberalization, particularly the poorest countries.”
“In 2017, intra-African trade was at 16.6 per cent compared to Europe, which was 68 per cent and Asia 59 per cent,” he revealed, and added, “and Mr. Speaker, not going too far, just in our own West African sub-region, what is the level of integration of trade between Ghana and Nigeria?”
“If you take for instance Nigeria, Dangote Cement in Ghana is flourishing well. I recall the kind of incentives and support we gave that company,” Haruna said.
“If you go to Nigeria, they still have listed commodities that cannot enter Nigeria from Ghana. How do you promote free African trade with this attitude and with this behavior?” he quizzed.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who buttressed the points of Mr. Iddrisu, said the home coming submit that was held last year in Ghana was aided to provide the platform to reinvigorate this idea.
“Mr. Speaker, it was well patronized and when we all thought that the plan for this year was going to elevate the efforts to another level, the coronavirus had put a span in the work that began last year.”
According to him, it is sad to say that in spite of the massive increase in African total merchandise in export reaching US$18 million, Africa trade is still low.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration earlier stated that the essence of the Africa Integration Day was to celebrate the progress made in the implementation of the Africa integration agenda, including the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and its achievement.