The African Union (AU) must tap into Chinese technology to derive maximum benefits from the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement next year, said Albert Fiatui, Executive Director for the Center for International Maritime Affairs (CIMA) in Ghana.
Speaking with Xinhua, he observed that win-win cooperation between Africa and China will help Africa’s rapid economic transformation with the AfCFTA agreement coming into force.
“Africa cannot trade with itself just alone and succeed, so Africa needs China as much as China needs Africa. I think the AU has its own plan to make sure that the relationship with China is tightened so that once we are able to produce and tap into our resources, we export to China so that we can get the needed revenue that is required for our own development,” he said.
The AfCFTA which was scheduled to have commenced in July had to be postponed to next year due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and there are concerns that may affect the prospect of the strategy.
But the expert believes the pandemic has not had a devastating effect on the continent hence AfCFTA will see a smooth take-off in January.
“When COVID-19 started the projections that were made was that Africa was going to be the hardest-hit but it turned out that we have managed it much better than the other giants. With all the assessments that we have done so far, we think that it can take off and work. So I think largely, COVID-19 has come to stay which we all have to manage but then we have to still move ahead with this agreement and enjoy the benefits,” he said.
The expert further emphasized that as part of the benefits, Ghana and the rest of the African continent will be opened up to the international community and urged various governments to provide incentives to small businesses to be able to compete in the global market to engender the economic transformation that the AfCFTA agreement envisages.
General Secretary for Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG) Nana Poku expressed optimism the AfCFTA agreement will be of immense benefit to local businesses and wants the government here to make credit facilities available for people to access.
“We are calling on the government to spread its tentacles in terms of helping the traders to stand up to this challenge because if not other countries will come and take advantage of us,” he said.
The 18th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted a decision to establish a continental free trade area by an indicative date of 2017. This deadline was, however, not met.
The summit also endorsed the action plan on boosting intra-Africa trade (BIAT) which identifies seven priority action clusters: trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade-related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration.
The AfCFTA is expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access, and better reallocation of resources.