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An Interaction Between The Ministry Of Trade And Industry And The Ghanaian Media (21/07/09)
 
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21-Jul-2009  
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Honourable Minister of Information,
Honourable Deputy Ministers of Information and of Trade & Industry
The Chief Directors of the Ministries of Information and of Trade & Industry
Heads of Departments and Agencies under the Ministry of Trade & Industry,
Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen of the Media,

For all of you who are either watching on television, or listening to us at home, or in your offices, good morning and thank you very much for making the time to interact with the Ministry of Trade & Industry.

This morning we will take our time to explain to you the work of the Ministry, and the activities that have been undertaken over the last five months by the Ministry itself, and in collaboration with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies. We will also explain how we intend to implement the vision of the government of his Excellency President John Evans Atta Mills to create a Better Ghana – by investing in people, in jobs and in the economy.

INTRODUCTION

The Ministry of Trade & Industry is the lead policy advisor to the government on Trade, industrial and private sector development with responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies for the promotion, growth and development of domestic and international trade, and industry. The Ministry is also the advocates for the private sector within government and is the principal agency responsible for monitoring the implementation the Government’s private sector development programs and activities.
When we launched our Manifesto we stated that we would pursue a policy of export led growth. Given that we have a relatively small market in terms of size and purchasing power, economic growth must necessarily come through increased international trade; hence the administration’s commitment to encourage the export sector, improve the competitiveness of local industries and also the competitiveness of Ghana as a business destination.
At this juncture I would like to give you some more information on programs being directly overseen and implemented by the Ministry.

Trade Sector Support Program, Gateway Program and the Private Sector Development Strategy

The Ministry of Trade & Industry achieves its objectives through the implementation of its programs. The over-arching cross-sectoral policy programs are the Trade Policy and Trade Sector Support Program, the Gateway Program and the Private Sector Development Strategy. Currently we are mid-way in the process of implementation of the Trade Sector Support Program, which was designed with a view to deliver rapid and strategic expansion of Ghana’s productive base. We are at the end of the implementation period of the first ten-year phase of the Gateway Program and also at end of the first Phase of the Private Sector Development Program. We have therefore focused our attention on developing the second phase of the Gateway Program and the second phase of the Private Sector Development Strategy. These programs will be referred to as GATEWAY 2, and PSDS 2. We are working hard to ensure that we will have completed the preparation of the Strategic Plans for these two programs, and also have costed them for inclusion in the 2010 budget in order that we will be able to commence implementation of these programs by January 2010.

Gateway 1 involved the implementation a comprehensive set of reforms aimed at making Ghana the trade and investment hub of the West African sub-region by enhancing the competitiveness of the country in attracting investments. The reforms have focused on front line institutions like the Ghana Free Zones Board, Customs Excise and Preventive Services, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority. Gateway 2 will focus on building on the achievements of Gateway 1, continuing with the necessary reforms required to achieve the objectives of Gateway 1, as we have not yet become the trade and investment hub of the region. making Ghana a regional trade hub. We envisage that this will involve building the necessary infrastructure to facilitate access to the landlocked countries of the sub-region, further improvements on port and transportation facilities, and the creation of industrial clusters for the downstream oil industry in the Western Region.
The Private Sector Development Strategy phase 1 focused on achieving the Golden Age of Business. The Private Sector Development Strategy phase 2 will focus on creating a thriving private sector, creating jobs and enhanced livelihoods for all.

MSME (MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES) PROJECT

The Ghanaian business environment is dominated by micro, small and medium enterprises. Therefore one cannot expect to have growth of the manufacturing and processing sector and commercial activities as a whole, without paying particular attention to the growth of what we refer to as the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise) sector as a whole. The Ministry is undertaking with the assistance of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation a project for the development of the MSME Sector. Through this program, we are focused on the following activities:
Providing access to finance by making available partial credit guarantees to participating banks to enable them to extend medium term financing to MSME’s who meet their lending requirements. It is also envisaged that the project will provide a line of credit for MSME lending, and the incentive of providing performance grants to participating banks. The project will also provide technical assistance to banks (which also includes rural and community banks) in order that they can train and prepare themselves to properly assess their clients and help them with the appropriate finance facilities. So far, Ecobank has gone through the process of evaluation under the project and is a beneficiary of the partial credit guarantee facility.

The project also aims to provide access to markets through business development services, and foster entrepreneurship development through providing skills training and business services to help MSME’s to take advantage of existing market opportunities. The BDS Fund has over the last 12 months been able to assist 227 beneficiaries and has committed US$ 2.2 million for this purpose.

The project also is focused on creating a business-enabling environment by coordinating the necessary institutional reforms required from Government and firm level interventions that would improve the conditions within which MSME’s operate.

We came to meet this program, which had been initiated by the previous administration and which had a funds commitment of US $105 million. At the time of taking office this program had only achieved an approximate 16% level of disbursement. We are currently in the process of a mid-term review of the project with the World Bank and IFC who together with the Government of Ghana provide a significant portion of the project funds. This process should be concluded at the end of July and thereafter we should be in a position to increase the level of output and utilize the funds that have been committed for the development of a sector, that needs our concerted efforts to strengthen and grow. We also should be in a position to use some of the funds to reorganize and strengthen the operations of the National Board for Small Scale Industries and CEDECOM. These organizations will have a leading role to play in improving the opportunities for businesses in this sector.

Currently projects that are in the pipeline using this facility are the development of a web based product gallery to promote made-in-Ghana products and provide opportunities for Ghanaian SME’s to promote and market their products using an internet based web portal. We believe this will help to facilitate buyer-seller matchmaking. We are also testing a web-based information portal to deliver online services for training, product development and adaptation, packaging, labelling and so on.
I am also happy to inform you that the Ministry of Trade & Industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication has commissioned the preparation of feasibility study and business plan towards the establishment of the first ICT Park at the Tema Free Zones Enclave. The ICT Park will provide the infrastructure and business support services for the incubation of export oriented small and medium ICT business to help them with shared facilities to maximize their potential for growth. Given that, the funds for this project are available. It will be done.
We have also used resources from this project to commission the Electricity Company of Ghana to look at the problem of intermittent power supply problems that have bedevilled the Adjabeng Garment enclave and procure the needed transformers to provide a permanent solution to the problem.

RURAL ENTERPRISES PROJECT

The Ministry also supervises the Rural Enterprises Project. This is a project where the National Board for Small Scale Industries and GRATIS (both agencies under the Ministry) are working with the Ministry and the 66 participating District Assemblies to promote the development of micro and small enterprises in the participating districts. The project is funded by IFAD and seeks to improve businesses outside of our capital city by providing business development services such as skills training, access to finance through the rural banks, and the provision of tools and equipment for participants, and those who have gone through a form of apprenticeship training. The participants have set up businesses of their own, and some of them have really had their life circumstances changed. We are also in discussions with IFAD to scale up the program so that when it comes to an end in 2011 there will be a replacement program that targets Districts that have not as yet benefitted from this project.

The Ministry and the Rural Enterprises Project organized an orientation program for the newly appointed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives 2 weeks ago in Sunyani. This was to encourage them to work with the project to ensure that the approximately US $13 million which amounts to about 50% of the total project funds remaining are disbursed within the next 2 years before the end of the program. This is to ensure that as many people as possible within the participating districts are beneficiaries of the program.
Next week the Ministry together with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency will launch the SME toolkit. This is a manual to assist entrepreneurs in this sector to navigate their way through the challenges of starting a business, managing a business, and dealing with the legal environment of doing business in Ghana and the regulatory issues that they should take into consideration. We believe that the toolkit will be a useful guide for up and coming entrepreneurs.

Establishment of a Tariff Advisory Board/Ghana International Trade Commission

The Ministry of Trade & Industry also has as one of its functions the monitoring of import/export trade with a view to making the import-export regime more transparent and predictable. In order to assist us in achieving this objective we are in the process of establishing a Tariff Advisory Board, which will eventually develop into an International Trade Commission. This organization will ensure that tariffs are set in accordance with national economic development priorities. The establishment of the Tariff Advisory Board will provide a structured basis for investigating petitions and determining appropriate measures based on concrete evidence provided by interested parties for making recommendations on varying the tariffs in respect of any particular imports into the country.
We also envisage that the Tariff Advisory Board/International Trade Commission through its operations will help to remove inconsistencies in the mechanisms for granting exemptions and permits, and further that capacity will be built in respect of understanding and applying regimes on rules of origin and quota’s. In the course of working on the establishment of the Tariff Advisory Board, an effective rate of protection methodology model has been developed and tested to calculate the appropriate levels of tariff that need to be applied in order to enable various Ghanaian products to be competitive.

The establishment of the Tariff Advisory Board/International Trade Commission is a project that was funded by USAID, and together with other programs like the Trade and Investment Program for a Competitive Export Economy, and the West African Trade Hub are some of the US funded projects to help us to strengthen our economic base. The West African Trade Hub has previously also developed a toolkit to help Ghanaian businesses take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to do business in the United States.
The Ministry has submitted the proposal on the establishment of the Ghana International Trade Commission to Cabinet for further consideration, and will keep the public informed on future developments.

CONSUMER PROTECTION POLICY

The Ministry is very much aware of the fact that while it is important to promote the interests of Ghanaian industry and commerce, it is of critical importance that we protect the Ghanaian Consumer. Therefore, we have also developed a Consumer Protection Policy that will ensure that our efforts to promote the welfare of business will not leave out the protection and welfare of Consumers. We hope that we will have had the policy approved by Cabinet shortly, and we will then embark on an extensive program of public education to inform producers, manufacturers and importers of their obligations to consumers. We will also at the same time educate the public on their rights and protections. Where it is necessary to augment these protections by additional legislation we will work with the Attorney General’s Department to develop a Consumer Protection Bill for consideration by Parliament.

PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT FACILITY (PSDF)

The Ministry launched the second round of the Private Sector Development Facility (PSDF), in May this year. This program has been undertaken through the partnership of the Government of Ghana and the Italian Government. Under this project the Italian Government has made available on concessionary terms the sum of €20 million for on lending to MSME enterprises in May this year. Under the terms of the Private Sector Development Facility, SME businesses can apply for financing facilities for the procurement of plant and equipment from Italy. The minimum amount that can be applied for is in the sum of € 25,000.00 and the maximum that an individual can apply for is in the sum of € 500,000.00. Any funding obtained can be repaid over a period of five years at an interest rate not exceeding 10%.

ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS (EPA)

Until the 31st of December 2007, the Cotonu Partnership Agreement governed the preferential trade arrangements between all the ACP countries and the European Union. These sorts of Preferential Trading Arrangements could not continue on the same terms because by the WTO rules this kind of non-reciprocal trading agreement was non-compliant, hence the negotiations of new preferential trading arrangements between the EU and the various regional blocks that made up the ACP Group.
Negotiations between the EU and ACP States started in the year 2002, negotiations at the Regional level started in 2003. If the timetable initially agreed upon had been met, then the new regional trading agreements should have taken effect on the 1st of January 2008. Within the West African (ECOWAS) sub-region Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are the three countries that are not classified as least developed countries. The others which are classified as LDC’s are still allowed duty free and quota free access to the EU Market under the anything but arms initiative ,whereas we would not have benefited from this program. In addition, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are also the only two countries in the sub-region who have grown their economies significantly based on the export of horticultural products and other processed items. The key market for these exports is the EU Market, and these products are competitive largely because of the duty free preferences obtained previously under the Cotonu Partnership Agreement, and now our interim EPA.

For that reason, it was thought at the time that the best way to ensure continued access to the European Market on a duty-free, quota free basis was to enter into the interim economic partnership agreement with the EU. Ghana’s IEPA, which was initialled in December 2007, covers Trade in Goods only. Under the agreement, Ghana had five years from the 1st of January 2008 where there is a standstill and no action needs to be taken to eliminate any duties on imports from the EU.
However, under the terms of the present agreement after the first five years have elapsed Ghana would be obliged to eliminate duties on 80% of its imports from the EU over a period of 15 years. At the time of initialling the IEPA, a sensitive products list was drawn up which defined the products that would not be subjected to any tariff reduction commitment. The sensitive list was drawn with a view to protecting our agricultural products.

It should be noted that because of having initialled the IEPA the EU has continued to allow our products duty free and quota free access. Not having such access would have caused difficulty to the horticultural sector (pineapples, other fruits & vegetables) the Cocoa processing sector, canned fish and processed food products. They would in the main not be competitive without duty free access.

The ECOWAS –EU EPA negotiations commenced in Cotonu in October 2003 with the mandate to negotiate for the progressive establishment in accordance with WTO rules of a free Trade Zone between ECOWAS and the European Union to take effect from the 1st of January 2008. The negotiating mandate further recognized the need to accord priority to development and poverty reduction, cooperation in trade related matters, deepening the integration process in West Africa and enhancing our competitiveness, building capacity and upgrading our industrial sector; and to improve access for West African Exports to the European market.

As previously stated, the negotiations have been ongoing for a while; and we have been unable to conclude by the initially agreed date of June 2009. At the last Chief Negotiators meeting in Brussels in June where we were represented it was agreed to pursue negotiations and hopefully to conclude “a Trade in goods agreement” by October 31st 2009. It was also agreed that other issues relating to non-goods trade such as Trade in Services and Intellectual Property Rights etc. should be negotiated next year. Further ECOWAS has developed the Economic Partnership Agreement Development Program with inputs from the member states and has presented this program to the EC. The program aims to support ECOWAS economies to adjust to changes resulting from the implementation of the EPA as well as help businesses in the ECOWAS Regions to benefit from the EPA by addressing supply side constraints. In the event that we do complete negotiations in October this year, the EPA Development Program will be signed together with the ECOWAS EPA on trade in goods.

DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES UNDER THE MINISTRY.

The Ministry as previously stated is responsible for developing policies that are relevant to the development and growth of the private sector and the country’s manufacturing and industrial capacity. The Ministry implements its policies, programs and special projects through its implementing agencies. Therefore, if you will permit me, I would give a brief summary of the work activities of the various departments and agencies.

EXPORT DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT FUND (EDIF)

The Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) was established by law in the year 2000 and since 2002 until date has provided loans and grants in the total amount of GH¢125, 937,983.7 in accordance with its mandate. The EDIF provides funding as loans through 20 designated financial institutions (DFI’s) to producers and marketers of export goods and services. The fund also provides grants to associations, institutions and groups to boost the production and management capacity of such groups operating in the non-traditional export sector. The challenge with the operations of EDIF has been the lack of interest on the part of the banks to on-lend the funds that have a concessionary interest rate to participants in the sector. Government is in the process of reviewing the operations of EDIF to see how it can be made more responsive to the needs of those businesses that are export oriented.

GHANA EXPORT PROMOTION COUNCIL

The Ghana Export Promotion Council was established by NLCD 396 in 1969. It has as its mandate the development of Ghana’s export trade and the promotion of Ghana’s exports abroad. It acts as a coordinating institution for the various public sector and other organizations involved in trade facilitation, it carries out advocacy services for organizations and individuals involved in the export trade and organizes workshops, forums, conferences and seminars for such organizations and individuals.

The GEPC also organizes market and trade missions, trade fairs and exhibitions, buyer-seller meetings with a view to helping Ghanaian enterprises to do business in the competitive international export market. This year the GEPC has undertaken such activities in Nigeria, the US and in the SADC regions. GEPC also has the trade information centre, which offers information and referral services to the business community, from the information available over 1000 people who are in the export trade have made use of the facility this year. GEPC has also organized training programs for farmers on the agric export value chain, have trained some SME’s on export market strategies, and export marketing fundamentals.

Additionally GEPC has launched its trade in services program, and a national export strategy in services document has been developed. Further, the GEPC has identified mangos as another non-traditional export crop in which we will have a competitive advantage. 55,000 exotic mango seedlings have been cultivated for plantation development.

The general performance of the non-traditional export sector shows that we earned US$ 534.4 million over the first half of this year, this is a reduction from the same time last year, but given the magnitude of the global financial crises, it is a welcome development.

GHANA FREE ZONES BOARD

The Ghana Free Zones Board was established by law in the year 1995, and has as at today 205 approved Free Zone Companies and five designated export processing zone areas. These are: the Tema Export Processing Zone with a total of 1,234.11 acres which has been developed to some extent under the Gateway project.

There are also the Sekondi Export Processing Zone with a total of 2,512.82 acres; the Ashanti Technology Park with a total of 1,090 acres; the Shama Export Processing Zone with a total of 3,238 acres; and the Community 21 residential area with a total of 152 acres all of which are yet to be developed. The total number of employees directly employed in the Free Zones is 27,971 and the total capital invested in Free Zones Enterprises over the period since its establishment is in the sum of approximately US $ 3 billion. The total value of production in the Free Zones Enterprises is US$ 6 billion, and the total value of exports is US$ 5.8 billion. Please note that that Free Zone companies can sell up to 30% of their production in Ghana, which accounts for the difference in the value of production and the amount exported.

GHANA STANDARDS BOARD

The Ghana Standards Board is responsible for the nation’s quality infrastructure and conducts its activities on the four pillars of metrology, standards, testing and quality assurance. The national standards infrastructure is critical to the growth of industry and promotes standards in public and industrial goods, welfare, health and safety.
Currently three of Ghana Standards Boards Laboratories have received and maintained international accreditation in the areas of mass, temperature and pressure. A national enquiry point has been strengthened to serve as the National Standards Information Centre relating to Standards, Technical Regulations, Conformity Assessment Procedures, Import-Export procedures and is serving as a reliable information source for both local and foreign import/export demands.
The testing laboratories are currently preparing towards international accreditation on the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 this will then ensure that the GSB labs will be in a position to certify that exporters meet specific export standards and requirements.

NATIONAL BOARD FOR SMALL SCALE INDUSTRIES (NBSSI)

The National Board for Small Scale Industries is the Government organization responsible for the promotion and development of micro and small enterprises in Ghana. It was established by an act of parliament in 1981 and it is the view of this government that it is a key institution that has the potential to assist in the reduction of unemployment and facilitate the growth and development of the MSME sector. NBSSI has its head office in Accra, Ten Regional Offices and 110 District Offices known as Business Advisory Centres. The view of the current administration is that NBSSI has to be reorganized and strengthened and the Ministry of Trade & Industry is in negotiation with our development partners to obtain the resources for carrying out the restructuring.

This year already 2,750 entrepreneurs have benefited from counselling and advisory services offered by the Business Advisory Centres in the Districts, and extension services have been provided to 1559 entrepreneurs, forty associations have received training in leadership and group dynamics and 202 entrepreneurs have been assisted to obtain NVTI certification.
As previously mentioned the NBSSI Business Advisory Centres have been key to the operations of the Rural Enterprises Project, and it is the view of the Ministry that when their operations are re-organized and strengthened they will be better placed to help in the growth and development of the micro-small and medium enterprise sector.

GRATIS

The GRATIS Foundation was incorporated in December, 1999. It evolved from the Ghana Regional Appropriate Technology Industrial Services (GRATIS) Project which was established in 1987 by the Government of Ghana with support from the European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency to promote small-scale industrialization in Ghana. It seeks to develop, promote and disseminate marketable technologies and skills for the growth of industry, particularly, micro, small and medium scale enterprises in Ghana and the West African sub-region. GRATIS operates through a network of 9 regional centres and 3 District Rural Technology Service Centres.
This year GRATIS has already trained over 400 technical apprentices nationwide in various trades of metal machining, welding, fabrication, woodworking and foundry. The Foundation has also manufactured about 755 different pieces of equipment including a 4 ton per hour high capacity cassava grater, cassava flour mill (hammer mill) a cassava chipper and a double screw press for the Cameroun chamber of industry.

They have also set up rural technology facilities at Bibiani in the Western Region and Assin Fosu in the Central Region. They have also tested the equipment at Konongo and Asankragua (all of which were manufactured by GRATIS) and that are awaiting commissioning.

They have also conducted other training programs in different parts of the country namely Krachi, Berekum, Nadowli, and Tema in Soap making, engineering training and batik and tie-dye.

The Ghana Trade Fair Company Ltd.

The Ghana Trade Fair Company Ltd., has this year organized the 13th International Trade Fair and has over the years been able to organize several specialized fairs. The Trade Fair Board has been inaugurated and has been tasked to work with the management, and of course the Ministry to resolve the particular challenges of the Trade Fair Company including the regularization of the company’s title to lands. This is the first point of business of the new board in order to interest other investors in public private partnerships for the upgrading of the structures and facilities of the International Trade Fair Centre and make it a modern multi-purpose trade-expo-city in the sub region.

OTHER POLICIES AND PROGRAMS OF THE MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT.

The National Industrial Policy

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is currently working on the National Industrial Policy with a view to submitting it for Cabinet approval in the last quarter of this year. Even though we have an ongoing Trade Policy and Trade Sector Support Program, a Private Sector Development Strategy and the MSME Program we are of the view that the revival of the Industrial Sector is key to our ability to develop a competitive manufacturing base.

We have also held a round table discussion with the Pharmaceutical Industry last week to obtain the key stakeholders inputs on a program for the development of the Pharmaceutical Sector as a Strategic Industrial sector for the country. The outcome of these consultations for the Pharmaceutical Sector will also be incorporated into the Draft Industrial Policy Document. Once the Industrial Policy is finalized and approved by Cabinet we will develop an Industrial Sector Support Program to ensure the implementation of the policy program.

Legislative Agenda

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is currently developing with the Attorney General’s Department Legislative Instruments to regulate the Export of Non-Ferrous Scrap Metals, and for the payment of income Tax by Free Zone Enterprises that have been in existence for over ten years.
We have also prepared a draft Competition law which is currently being reviewed by UNCTAD in Switzerland.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry had entered into an agreement in 2008 with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual property to establish the Swiss Ghana Intellectual Property Project. The aim of the project is to assist Ghana to design a modern system of Intellectual Property Rights that will improve the business environment, encourage knowledge and technology transfer to facilitate economic development. We have recruited a local project coordinator who assumed office on the 2nd of July, and we are now ready to take off with the project.

Under the Private Sector Development Strategy Phase 1 funds were provided to assist the Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Justice to review the Companies Code, we are reliably informed by the Attorney General’s Department that the Draft Companies Code will be ready this year.

Once Cabinet approves the Consumer Policy it is envisaged that a Consumer Protection Bill will be prepared for presentation to Parliament. We will work towards submitting a Consumer Protection Bill to Parliament in 2010.

Conclusion

This presentation is not intended to be an exhaustive report on all of the activities of the Ministry of Trade & Industry for the year to date. We are engaged in other activities such as reviewing audit reports of the Ministry’s activities for the years 2006-07, and other reports that are available to us. We are also finalizing our recommendations on the Destination Inspection Scheme, the Presidential Special Initiatives projects and the operations of the Northern Star Tomato Factory for submission to Cabinet.

We believe that our presentation has given the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media and the Ghanaian people some insight into the activities of the Ministry of Trade & Industry throughout the first half of this year, and the activities we will be focusing our attention on for the second half of the year.

We are committed to realizing the vision of his Excellency the President of creating more opportunities for Ghanaian enterprise to thrive and prosper, and for individual Ghanaians to be gainfully employed and work towards achieving their dreams and aspirations. We are under no illusions that the task will be easy, but we believe that having taken responsibility for defining our own path to our nation’s growth and development, and defining programs and projects that will offer opportunities to as many as possible within the term of this government, we will make a difference in the lives of our people. We believe that we can, and we are committed to ensuring that we will.

Thank you for your attention.

Hanna Tetteh
Minister of Trade & Industry
 
 
 
Source: ISD
 
 

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