Address challenges to enhance cross-border trade — Report

Source The Ghana Report

To enhance cross-border trade through trade facilitation and finance, the negotiation team on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Protocol on Women and the Youth should prioritise addressing challenges faced by women traders, a report has said.

The challenges include time constraints, burdensome customs requirements, limited access to finance and exposure to harassment.

The AfCFTA Protocol on Women and the Youth aims to promote sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, the equal opportunity for women and youth in intra-Africa trade, and the structural transformation of African economies.

The report titled: “Situational Analysis on Women and Youth for Ghana on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said these challenges were particularly pronounced for small-scale women traders in developing and least-developed economies of which Ghana is no exception.

Conducted by a gender research organisation, the Aya Institute for Women, Politics and Media, with support from the  Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH(GIZ) Ghana, under the ‘Programme Support Scheme for the AfCFTA’, the report provides a situational analysis and position paper on women and youth in trade for Ghana towards the negotiations on the AfCFTA.

It also assessed the current institutional, regulatory and policy/ strategy frameworks as well as international trends and national practices regarding aspects of women and youth in trade and how Ghana can best position itself to take advantage of the protocol and how to advance its specific objectives, interests, and positions within negotiations.

Presenting the report at a stakeholder workshop for women-led Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and youth in Accra, the programmes and Communications Coordinator for Aya Institute for Women, Politics and Media, Bridget Biney, said the design and implementation of effective trade facilitation measures hinged on identifying the specific challenges and barriers faced by cross-border traders, including women.

“The adoption and implementation of domestic policies in compliance with commitments established under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) can be a catalyst for women traders by creating predictable and efficient customs processes, reducing clearance times and trade costs, reducing the opportunity for fraudulent practices at the border, and increasing the involvement of women in trade facilitation decision mechanisms,” she said.


Highlighting a myriad of issues and challenges faced by women-led businesses in trading across Africa, Certification processes emerged as a major hurdle, with concerns about its complexity, cost and impact on competitiveness.

“Access to finance and credit, discriminatory social and cultural norms, limited representation in decision-making processes, and unequal access to market information were also significant challenges.

Regulatory issues, high taxes and difficulty in accessing trade finance added to the obstacles. Participants emphasised that these challenges were persistent, often leading to financial losses and hindering the growth of women-led businesses,” the report said.

“The need for a more streamlined certification system, improved access to finance, and gender-inclusive policies across African countries was a common theme in the responses,” it added.


The Gender Sub-Committee Chairperson on Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), Naa Densua Aryeetey, said the government has been collaborating with women and the youth to ensure these two significant demographics can sign up to the trade agreement.

She said more women-led businesses have emerged since the inception of AfCFTA, adding that the women and youth protocol would ensure that gender-specific challenges that affected Ghanaian traders such as harassment at the borders would be addressed to make trading conducive for women.

For his part, a representative of the Ghana Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs (GCYE), Emmanuel Agbesi, said young entrepreneurs needed an enabling environment to effectively trade and contribute to the local economy.

A representative from GIZ Ghana, Angela Benefo in her remarks said GIZ Ghana was partnering with gender organisations such as the Aya Institute for Women, to conduct research on women and AfCFTA with the aim of improving gender-specific trade outcomes in MSMEs in Ghana.

GIZ Ghana has been supporting the Aya Institute for Women since 2022 to carry out research in the area of trade and women-led MSMEs in Ghana.
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