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AfCFTA Targets $450m Untapped SMEs Market

The African Continental Free Trade Area, (AfCFTA) says it is focusing on leveraging the economic potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for inclusive growth.

AfCFTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, at the 13th World Trade Promotion Organizations Conference in Accra said the secretariat is shifting its focus from large industries to SMEs through a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Trade Corporation (ITC).

“It is vital that under the current circumstances, the SMEs are supported to survive and adapt, as they can be a key component on the road to economic recovery on the continent.,” he said.

Mr. Mene explained that Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) will be vital in providing assistance to SMEs to ramp up their export capabilities.

“In addition, it is crucial that you support them to understand and participate in regional value chains, for our “Made in Africa” revolution to be successful,” he stated.

The economic impact of COVID-19, climate change and the war on Ukraine is projected to cause a loss of about $450 million in the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDO) if struggling SMES and social impact entrepreneurs are not cushioned.

Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen, charged players in trade promotion to employ aggressive and innovative reforms to position SMEs for resilience and recovery.

“For TPOs to effectively play the role that is expected of them, a number of critical driving factors need to be addressed; First, governments around the world, particularly in developing countries, must now put trade at the center of their development agenda. Trade must be mainstreamed in national development plans. Programmes and projects that enhance trade must be aggressively pursued by TPOs.”

“Secondly, TPOs must identify specific areas where global trade disruptions have created opportunities for scaling up local production in their national economy, and build partnerships with private sector business associations to take advantage of such opportunities.” he stated.

Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC), Pamela Coke-Hamilton called for reforms to be introduced by the ITC member states to aid the speedy recovery and resilience of SMEs.

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