The Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council (GNBCC) and the European Chamber of Commerce have reaffirmed Ghana’s status as the most desirable location for foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade in West Africa, with the highest competitiveness score.
However, Mr. Tjalling Wiarda – General Manager of the Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council, and Mr. Nicholas Gebara – the Executive Director of the European Chamber of Commerce, during an expert panel webinar to commemorate European Union Day at the Institute of International Affairs, Ghana (GhIIA.org), disclosed that Senegal and Ivory Coast were rapidly gaining momentum and that Ghana needed to redouble its efforts to remain competitive.
Mr. Fred Amissah, the IETO’s coordinating fellow, moderated the webinar hosted by the International Economics and Trade Observatory (IETO) at GhIIA.org.
Mr. Amissah disclosed during the discussion that the Institute’s perspective on trade is based on the Ricardian concept of comparative advantage. As a result, the Institute believed that international trade based on utilizing Ghana’s edge was critical to the country’s development.
The webinar, he said, was organized as part of the celebrations to mark European Day, and in commemoration of the long history of trade economic relations between Europe and Ghana/ West Africa.
The coordinating fellow further noted that the webinar was an attempt to tap into the knowledge of European Chambers of Commerce about how Ghana competed in recruiting European businesses and investments in comparison to its peers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ghana Urged To Leverage On AFCFTA To Make The Country Appealing For Investment
The panelists were emphatic that despite major challenges, Ghana remained an oasis of peace and security in ECOWAS and thus continued to be preferred. They all agreed that the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the establishment of the AfCFTA office in Accra presents a bullish opportunity for growth in the economy.
“Any European company is looking for ease of access to large markets in Africa. So, if I can trade with Ghana, and through that gain access to the 300 million ECOWAS market as well, it will definitely be attractive.”Mr. Nicholas Gebara
According to Mr. Tjalling Wiarda, Ghana needs to do more to become more appealing with the AfCFTA framework, or else enterprises would go to other African countries as entrepots.
“More had to be done to bring to life the free zones concept as the current feedback from prospective companies indicated that the costs of setting up were a bit higher compared to other markets. Senegal and Ivory-Coast were making great strides in attracting business, and indeed the port of Abidjan was becoming preferred for trade to the Sahelian region.
“The cost of doing business in Ghana is very high. This was on the basis that, a foreigner requires USD 200,000 as capital before setting-up a business in Ghana, as compared to Nigeria which is USD 50,000.”Mr. Tjalling Wiarda
In response to a query about Ghana’s transportation infrastructure in terms of competitiveness, Mr. Wiarda of GNBCC stated that Kotoka is currently the most expensive airport for planes to arrive in Africa, and the fifth most expensive in the world. As a result, more work is required if Ghana is to establish an airbridge for produce, as Kenya has done for Naivasha to Europe
However, Mr. Nicholas Gebara of the European Chamber of Commerce highlighted that the modification and the implementation of the companies act along with the introduction of the Insolvency Law and the Bankruptcy Law is an indication of efforts to streamline the regulatory framework – which is essential for any business entity registered and operating in Ghana.
Mr. Gebara however noted that consultations could be deepened to ensure that the business community is carried along.
Both Mr. Gebara and Mr. Wiarda were emphatic that European partners and participation delivered the quality that was key to the growth of the Ghanaian economy.
They noted that even though other countries seem to have lax regimes and were thus inching up in the volume of trade, it was becoming evident that their lack of standards on issues like human rights, quality standards and climate issues were in the long-term leading to unsustainable growth.
“For example, because of the high EU standards necessary to export from a Ghanaian farm into the EU, produce here will be of high quality and be excellent for local consumption. Also, because of this high standard, these farms can then export this produce at a premium into other high-value markets like the USA or Britain, ultimately delivering more revenue to the farmer.”Mr. Gebara and Mr. Wiarda
In response to a question on which countries may serve as a model for Ghana becoming more competitive, both panelists suggested that Ghana could learn a lot from Vietnam, Rwanda, Suriname, and Morocco about the necessary reforms to increase competitiveness.
Mr. Prince Asante, the graduate assistant in charge of research at the Institute, concluded the session by noting that the insights gained were beneficial and added to the body of research that will be put together into a policy recommendation brief to Parliament.
Mr. Asante also mentioned that the full recording of the webinar was accessible on the Institute’s social media accounts and encouraged the public to upcoming Institute seminars.
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