The African Continental Free Trade Area ( AfCFTA ) whose Secretariat is hosted by Ghana in Accra, is to commence operation by January 2021.
AfCFTA was created by the African Union (AU) to facilitate and boost trade among member states of the Union.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen made this known when members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Parliament paid a visit to the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Mr Alan Kyerematen said "originally the AfCFTA was scheduled to be officially commissioned on 31st March 2020 for commencement of trading among member states under the agreement on 1st July 2020 but the arrangements were rescheduled following the outbreak of Covid19."
The Minister said "African Council of Ministers of Trade who will have oversight responsibility over the AfCFTA will hold a meeting in August 2020 , to be followed by a meeting of African Heads of State in December 2020 to approve outstanding work on rules of origin and market access offer before AfCFTA commences operation in January 2021."
The Minister said as part of Ghana's obligation to host the Secretariat of AfCFTA, the country is required to provide a fully furnished office space in a secured and easily accessible location for the Secretary General of AfCFTA and also provide a fully furnished permanent residence for him (the Secretary General of AfCFTA ).
In addition, Ghana is required to grant diplomatic immunity to staff of AfCFTA and their dependents.
In bidding for the offer to host the Secretariat, the Minister said Ghana was required to offer US$ 10 million as settling in grant facilitate the setting up of the AfCFTA Secretariat .
The Minister said the AfCFTA is a tremendous opportunity for Ghana and all AU member states.
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Parliament and MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh said the Committee will do all it can to support the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure the successful completion of preparation towards the commencement of operation of the AfCFTA.
The Deputy Minority Ranking Member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and MP for Jirapa, Hon Dr Francis Dakura described AfCFTA as a fantastic opportunity for the continent.
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