Trade practitioner and Executive Director of the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN) Group, Louis Yaw Afful has called for signatories and parties to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to look to “critical technical experts” within Ministries of Trade when selecting successors to serve on the Council of Ministers of AfCFTA.
According to him, although the Council of Ministers constitute political appointees, often Ministers of Trade who serve as liaisons between the Heads of State and the AfCFTA Secretariat, they also play critical roles in the negotiation and review processes of the various protocols. Thus, some level of technical acumen is needed to successfully execute their mandate.
Louis Afful says this is necessary to ensure continuity in the AfCFTAobjective.
The Executive Director of the APN Group was speaking on the Eye on Port TV program where he drew inspiration from the case of the resignation of Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Ghana’s Trade Minister who had also served on the Council of Ministers of AfCFTA.
According to the trade expert, Ghana was privileged to have someone like Hon. Kyerematen serve on the Council because not only was he a politician but a trade practitioner himself with years of experience in that industry.
“If you take Hon. Alan Kyerematen critically, he was not just a policy head to implement party manifestos and government agendas. He was more than just that- he was a technical person. He was at the Africa Trade Policy Centre which is a wing of Economic Community of Africa under UN.
He has had initial technical expertise in the whole AfCFTA process. You can put a Trade Minister of a different background there but when it comes to a certain cause where technical expertise is needed, there will be an impact of his unavailability.
They have to get somebody with the full technical expertise that he had in the cause for the AfCFTA implementation, else it will slow down Ghana’s drive.”
This he said led to the Minister’s crucial contribution to Ghana’s AfCFTA drive calling him “one of the architects and pioneers of the AfCFTA dream”. One of the major contributions he listed was his role during the formulation of the National AfCFTA Action Plan and Policy Framework – a document that spells out Ghana’s national strategy in the implementation of AfCFTA.
He said the CEO of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Afua Asabea Asare and the former CEO of the Ghana Free Zones Authority, and current Deputy Minister of Trade Michael Okyere Baafi are among viable candidates that can take up the role of Ghana’s rep within the Council of Ministers at AfCFTA.
Alternatively, Mr. Afful suggested that the Chief Negotiators at the various Ministries of Trade in party states can play caretaker roles within the Council.
He emphasized the importance of momentum when it comes to the implementation of the free trade agreement and urged party states to endeavor to ensure continuity in spite of political changes.
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