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For AfCFTA to work, it must be human rights fit- delivering on the SDG goals – Professor Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua

Day two of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) 2022 Public Forum continued with a focus on Political and Legal Environments for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Various speakers at the forum which is organized annually by the GAAS and sponsored UMB, a leading indigenous Ghanaian bank, opined that Human Rights Impact Assessments are a critical tool for the advancement of people-centered and human rights-based development, including through trade agreements. This is critical in ensuring that the rights of people whose needs may otherwise be overlooked or poorly addressed are protected in trade negotiations so everyone can benefit equitably from trade.

Speaking on the sub-topic “The human rights implications of AfCFTA,” Professor Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Associate Professor of Law, University of Ghana, argued that human rights will provide the framework for Africa’s progress. He also remarked that he believes the AfCFTA will be effective if barriers to the free movement of products, services, capital, and people are gradually removed.

Professor Ernest Abotsi, Dean of UPSA Law School, during his submission stated, “The AfCFTA establishes the single largest free trade area by number.” He added that the AfCFTA presents an opportunity for Africa to reset its relationship with itself and the outside world and leverage the enormous commercial advantages offered by the deal. He also advised the African Union and the AfCFTA secretariat to speed up permitting voluntary free movement for the countries involved. In response to a query on how local traders may benefit from the deal, Prof. Abotsi stated that it is necessary to localize trade discussions in order to bring market women and men on board.

The Chairperson of the forum Emerita Prof. Isabella Akyinbah A. Quakyi Vice -President, Arts Section of the Academy in her closing remarks expressed GAAS profound appreciation to UMB for sponsoring the forum.  “ AfCFTA is a game changer and a new magical wand that will bring in renewed energy being removal tariffs, single African market and bringing in untapped potentials’’ she said.

Belinda Boamah, Executive Director, Business at UMB in response stated “Our sponsorship of this forum is a testament that we remember that the conceptualization and formation of our Bank, was probably arrived at in deliberations like this. The substantive point here being that the ideas, analysis and research of Academia, often drives and leads to very positive outcomes, what American management practice calls blue sky thinking or blue ocean ideas.”

She further added that for a fully Ghanaian Bank, with aspirations for exponential growth, AfCFTA features significantly in the Bank’s medium to long term plans and as such they were most eager to tap into the erudite deliberations, to learn, so the Bank is future fit to take advantage of this game- changer initiative.

The Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Herbert Krapa was amongst the dignitaries present. Forum enters its final lap this evening in Accra at the Academy’s auditorium.