Concerns have been raised by some businesses that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, though a good move by leaders of the continent, has the potential of disrupting the economy of some countries, especially those with fragile economies.

However, Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, has addresses such concerns at an event in Accra, saying the policy framework governing the deal has put in place measures which allows countries to exclude some products they consider sensitive enough to affect the growth of their economies from the free tariffs under the AfCFTA agreement.

“In deciding on the categories of products that will be traded in the AfCFTA, the basic and fundamental principle is that countries are given the opportunity to identify certain categories of goods that will be described as sensitive and certain categories that will be described as exclusive goods. It means that based on the vulnerabilities associated with particular products in a particular country, you can exclude that category of products.

For every country, you are allowed to designate 3 percent of your tradable goods as exclusive goods and for 7 percent of the goods that you trade, you are allowed to categorise them as sensitive goods; which means that you can only liberalise or reduce or eliminate the tariffs on those goods over a certain period of time.

In addition to that, as part of the framework agreement of the AfCFTA, there are various specific safeguards that are reflected in the agreement which allows countries to protect themselves against unfair competition in certain goods that will be traded,” he said.

He further assured that sanctions will be applied to member countries which go against the rules of the game; hence, no country will experience unfair trade practices. He further reiterated the country’s readiness to take advantage of the trade deal to boost economic growth.

“I say we are ready on two grounds. First, we have introduced institutional frameworks that makes us ready and I believe you recall that the President has introduced an inter-ministerial facilitation team made up of critical-sector ministers who are supposed to provide strategic guidance and support to make Ghana ready for the AfCFTA. There is national steering committee that is coordinating and guiding the support that will be given to the private companies and other stakeholders,” he said.