GHANA – The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Ghana has echoed its commitment to support the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiatives aimed at promoting intra-African trade.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the just-ended 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair held in Durban, South Africa, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, responsible for Technical Operations at the FDA, Mrs. Akua Amartey, said the FDA would want to advocate for the speedy harmonization of regulatory requirements across the continent, to reduce undue cost that businesses incur while trading their products across the continent.
FDA took part in the Intra-African Trade Fair, 2021 organized under the auspices of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA. The event, which was flagged off by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, had seven other African heads of state present with several dignitaries and representatives of businesses all across Africa and beyond.
Mrs. Amartey indicated that the recent introduction of FDA’s flagship programme – the Progressive Licensing Scheme, was targeted at developing cottage, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs),for them to increase their export base and help to realize an ultimate boost in intra-Africa trade transactions by volume and value.
She said the FDA looked forward to implementing the lessons learnt at the fair to spur the economic integration of the African continent.
According to her, Africa is the only continent which does not consume what it produces, with a total of less than 16 per cent intra-Africa trade flows, compared to the 60 per cent, 40 per cent and30 per cent intra-regional trade achieved in Europe, North America and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) respectively.
Regulations to back trade
She said the authority together with other standards regulatory authorities were present at the fair with the purpose of interacting with the business community to provide regulatory support that will facilitate trade across the continent.
The event also brought to the fore the urgent need for effective harmonization of country regulatory requirements to support this agenda.
The Technical Operations expert said studies so far had shown that standards and regulations had the potential to either act as barriers or catalysts for trade.
“For example, stricter food safety regulations and standards are often portrayed as non-tariff barriers to trade but can be a powerful catalyst for investments in improving food safety management systems, especially when incentives for these investments are lacking in domestic markets,” she said.
The Deputy CEO said trade policy, standards and regulation interventions could have a positive impact on the quality of products and increase access to high-end export markets.
It was noted that, the coming into being of the AfCFTA in January 2020 constituted one giant step towards the fulfillment of the aspirations of the Africa Union and that the AfCFTA agreement, commits businesses and governments to work at changing the sad narrative of intra-Africa trade to realize a single market for its over 1.2 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3 trillion.
The fair brings together 1000 exhibitors and 10,000 conference delegates, trade visitors, and think tanks to discuss the implementation of these pertinent continental trade issues.