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Bawumia: Continental free trade will be incomplete without mobility of labour services

The vice-president argues that there is also a great need to align educational and skills development initiatives to regional labour market requirements

The vice-president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said that continental free trade will be incomplete if there is no mobility of labour services.

The importance cannot be overemphasised, he said, of enhancing the labour market through regional collaboration to facilitate cross-border mobility of skilled labour to areas of demand in the region.

The vice-president was speaking at the 5th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) in Accra on Tuesday (27 July).

“This raises the need to align the educational and skills development initiatives to the regional labour market requirement,” he said.

All about payments

“A good payment system has an important contribution to make to overall continental trade,” he added. “After all, payments are at the heart of the day-to-day functioning of a free trade system.

“[We can only be successful in] the goal of attaining social-economic development on the continent … if we set our focus on improving the industry, deepening trade and ensuring a resilient financial system to back both trade and industry,” the vice-president said.

To this end, he recalled, the government in 2017 launched the ten-point Industrial Transformation Agenda and other measures such as the One District, One Factory and Strategic Anchor Industries projects and further schemes to boost the economy’s productive capacity to promote manufacturing, increase employment and improve the welfare of Ghanaians.

“With the commencement of trading under AfCFTA earlier this year, these steps are expected to position Ghana on the pathway to becoming a regional manufacturing hub,” he said.

Impetus for investment

Speaking on “Free Trade and the Role of Central Banks”, Bawumia said they will continue to play an important function in creating an enabling microeconomic environment which will help develop a well-functioning continental trading system.

He said a good financial system, particularly the payments system, is important to both the public in general and central banks in particular.

“At the heart of trading is the instrumental role of a robust and resilient financial system. A well-functioning financial sector provides the impetus for productive investments, expanded opportunities; for jobs and wealth creation.” 

Financial inclusion

Bawumia expanded: “Indeed, one has to recognise that, for the financial sector to play its role in the AfCFTA across Africa, there must be financial inclusion.

“Because if only a small fraction of your population has access to financial services and most of the traders don’t have, then the financial services would not be able to play any significant role.

“And so, for African countries, it is very important that we emphasise not only … financial services but … financial inclusion; that is what will really catalyse the trade process that we are trying to do under AfCFTA.”

About GITFiC

This year’s GITFiC conference, which is being supported by Asaase Radio, is on the theme of “Facilitating Trade and Trade Finance in AfCFTA: the Role of the Financial Services Sector”, with the sub-theme “Creating an Enabling Macroeconomic Environment in AfCFTA: the Role of the Central Banks in Africa”.

GITFiC seeks to bring together business executives, policymakers and trade/finance experts from all over Africa and beyond to articulate ways of enhancing inter-African trade, regional integration, trade liberalisation, trade policies and trade practices on the African continent. The emphasis of the conference is to turn talk into action.

Target audiences for the conference are banks, insurance practitioners and insurance companies, savings and loans companies, microfinance institutions, finance houses, leasing companies, finance and leasing companies and mortgage finance companies.

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