How the AfCTA Impacts U.S.-Ghana Business Opportunities
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is opening the door for new opportunities and business relations between Ghana and the United States.
Air Date: September 8, 2021
Moderator: Scott Eisner, President, U.S.-Africa Business Center, Sr. Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Ayesha Bedewi, President, AmCham Ghana, Stephanie Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, United States of America, Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Africa, United States of America, H.E. Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ghana, Prudence Sebahizi, Senior Technical Advisor on AfCFTA, AfCFTA Secretariat, Dr. Guevera Yao, Senior Director, West and Central Africa, U.S Chamber of Commerce, Bossman Kwapong, Country Manager, MasterCard, Jessica Poku, Country Manager, Uber, Adoma Peprah, Country Manager, Visa, Pakwo Shum, Vice President, American Chamber of Commerce-Ghana
In March 2018, more than 50 countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Countries began trading under AfCFTA on January 1, 2021, and it is currently the world’s largest free trade area in terms of the number of countries, encompassing 1.2 billion people and about $2.5 trillion.
Ghana, one of the African countries that signed the agreement, has just hosted the Africa Continent Free Trade Area Secretariat, and it has been trading under the AfCFTA agreement for several months. Operating under this agreement has some positive implications and potential outcomes for Ghana, which is now well-positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities in the global market.
The U.S.-Ghana 2021 Business Forum, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is an annual event that emphasizes deepening diplomatic and commercial partnerships between Ghana and the United States. The 2021 summit discussed strengthening partnerships in different industries, including energy, infrastructure, technology, and more.
Business Relations in Ghana in the Context of AfCFTA
The AfCFTA, which started trade in January 2021, is expected to have massive positive effects on Africa and its population in personal and business spheres. From reducing poverty to promoting trade integrity and cross-border cooperation, the AfCFTA may even achieve more than it originally set out to do.
Stephanie Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, explained the impact of the AfCFTA on business relations in Ghana.
“As host of the secretariat, the AfCFTA is a game-changer, not only for doing business across the country but also for how the world thinks of Africa and Ghana,” she said. “[These countries are] well-positioned to capitalize on the new economic synergies and opportunities for growth that the AfCFTA can bring to the continent.”
Developing Strategic U.S.-Ghana Partnerships
After the signing of the AfCFTA, Ghana has made changes to government and many business sectors, inviting the opportunity for the U.S. and other countries to become more involved in strategic partnerships.
“Ghana also [has] a new government … and we have launched a very aggressive program for industrial transformation, which I believe offers strategic entry points for U.S. investments in our country,” said H.E. Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry for Ghana. “These strategic industries are meant to diversify our economy ... and it is my view that together with investments in energy, in telecommunications, [in pharmaceuticals], and in the financial services sector, there are many entry points for U.S.-Ghana investments, which have not yet been explored fully.”
“I believe that the U.S. and Ghana should have a strategic partnership arrangement to develop a post-COVID economic transformation agenda, which will support the two economies to our mutual benefits,” Kyerematen added.
Boosting Intra-African Trade Through Digitization
In the wake of the pandemic, experts asserted that COVID-19 accelerated digitization by seven years globally and that the global digital economy is projected at $23 trillion by 2025, representing roughly 24% of the world GDP. In Africa, demand for e-commerce has skyrocketed, resulting in a 68% increase in online shopping. Industry leaders such as MasterCard and Uber have identified that demand and have done their part to meet people's needs.
“From our perspective, we know that people are always looking for ways to get goods and other necessities delivered quickly and conveniently,” said Jessica Poku, country manager at Uber. “Businesses are also looking for better ways to serve their customers. And the platform is there for that to move things and people quickly. During the pandemic especially, we pivoted to adapt our offerings to meet these changing needs and to scale it globally.”