Dr. Kofi Amoah, an Economist and Businessman has advised the government to practice some form of protectionism to cushion domestic industries. According to him, all developed countries at one point in time used this tool to empower their domestic firms. This helped them create jobs for their people and improve their standard of living.
“Some form of protectionism because all these countries that have made it, it was a big tool that they all use. They have used it up to a certain point and now that they are up there, they say you cannot do the same thing. We cannot listen to that”.
He pointed out that even though Ghana wants to create jobs for its citizens, “the mechanism you have for creating the jobs, is challenged because of your liberal economics”. Dr. Amoah explained that as long as our borders remain open, it will be very difficult for Ghanaian businesses to succeed.
“Because your borders are opened, anytime you start, it crushes because somebody who is doing it better and cheaper comes in there and crushes you down. Without a certain level of protection for your infant companies, you are never going to be able to compete in the global market”.
Need to empower Ghanaian Businesses
Nevertheless, he indicated that Ghana needs to trade with other countries since its part of the global village. However, despite living in an era of the AfCFTA, there is the need to protect certain aspects of our market. He cited Nigeria as an example of a country that is threading this path. According to him, Nigeria has banned about 160 items from coming into their country.
“You want to produce maximum products within your economy, first to satisfy a people who live in this community and the balance exported. I’m not saying we shouldn’t trade, we have to trade, we live in a global community. So, Ghanaian companies must be empowered to be able to trade with Nigeria, the UK. But there are certain areas that should become reserved, our strength, that we can sit on”.
As a result, “that will give us that underlining strength as a country, otherwise, you are immobilized”. Dr. Amoah explained that most African economies are immobilized because they have not understood the global dynamics of trade and protectionism. Not to talk of efficiency and productivity and “even the financial architecture of where you have to go and borrow”.
A winnable model for the economy
Meanwhile, Dr. Amoah is calling for a winnable model that will underpin the country’s developmental agenda.
“There has to be a model that you are operating. Right now we are practicing liberal economics. In other words, Ghana can sell anything that we made to anybody and anybody anywhere can also sell to us; that is the model we are practicing. Are we able to compete? If you look at the history of countries that started before us, they had specific policies that protected them – protectionism”.
Moreover, he pointed out that the global community has established certain linkages, trade routes, and capitalistic endeavors that make it difficult for most African countries to develop. He indicated that most countries, including Ghana, are still struggling to understand how to fit into the global business arena. Dr. Amoah believes that the environment in Ghana does not encourage infant industries to thrive because these industries are exposed to competition.
“Are we going to open our borders to people to come and sell anything they want? We have our young people who have now started a business. There is a company in China that is 25 years old making the same thing. A company in the UK doing the same thing. Their prices are lower; their packaging is better”.