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Trade Ministry Implements Export-Led Agenda   
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Hanna Tetteh
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The Ministry of Trade and Industry continues to pursue the agenda of government which focuses on export-led growth, based on the fact that Ghana has a small market in terms of size and purchasing power.

In its bid to achieve the objectives of promoting economic growth through increased international trade by improving the competitiveness of local industries and promoting Ghana as a preferred business destination, the Ministry has, therefore, since January, this year, commenced the implementation of the prescriptions in the new Industrial Policy and its Sector Support Programme.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Hanna Tetteh, made these known when she took her turn at the Meet-the-Press Series in Accra, yesterday.

Madam Tetteh said the implementation of the prescriptions in the Industrial Policy and its Sector Support Programme would enable manufacturing companies take advantage of the achievements of the Trade Sector Support Programme derived from the Trade Policy.

She said while the Trade Sector Support Programme, which ended in December 2010, focused on improving the business environment, the Industrial Sector Support Programme sought to address supply constraints and improve the competitiveness of manufacturing companies.

The Minister disclosed that work on a National Export Strategy and an accompanying National Development Programme had been completed and was awaiting cabinet’s approval for implementation.

This Strategy, according to the Minister, sought to consolidate Ghana’s share of the major export markets in Europe and also increase the country’s share on the African market, particularly within the sub-region of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“The strategy further seeks to intensify the production of Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) across the country such that each district would have at least one major export product. A target of $5billion in NTE earnings by the fifth year of implementation has been set”, she added.

Madam Tetteh outlined the achievements of the various departments and agencies under her outfit.

In relation to the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF), she indicated that from the last quarter of 2011 to June 2012, a total amount of GH₵ 90,846, 354.46 was approved for 139 projects under two credit windows, namely Export Development and Promotion and Export Development and Projects.

She said the total of NTE earnings for the first half of 2012 was US $1.1billion, an increase of 6% over the same period in 2011.

In the area of trade facilitation, the Minister noted, policies had been put in place which led to the speedy and efficient clearance of goods at the ports and the reduction in the cost of doing business.

She said, under the trade facilitation programme, the Ghana Community Network (GCNET) had been strengthened with the deployment of the Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance System (GICCS) to improve the visibility of cargo.

She explained that the GICCS provided a single access portal to be deployed on the internet/intranet by the user groups, i.e., shipping lines/agents, port authority, customs & exporters/importers, clearing agents and others.

In addition, Madam Tetteh said, Remote Entry Procedures for Customs Declaration had also been strengthened with the introduction of a model— Final Clarification and Valuation Report (FCVR)— which allowed importers to submit Import Declaration Forms (IDFs) together with the necessary attachments electronically. “These arrangements will eliminate the submission of paper documents by clearing agents or declarants and the issuance of paper FCVRs to further enhance the speed of doing business”, she stated.

She disclosed that a five-year Action Plan had been completed for the implementation of projects under a programme called Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) with funding from the European Union, adding that an amount of 7 million Euros had also been earmarked for the construction of 300 low cost housing units for banana plantation workers in the Kpong and Akuse areas.

BAM, she said, aimed to put in place measures to mitigate the potential erosion of competitiveness of African, Caribbean and Pacific Banana Exports due to the removal of tariffs on banana from the Latin and South American countries into the EU markets.

On the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP), the Minister indicated that phase two of the programmes which ended in June 2012 had led to the establishment of Business Advisory Centres in 66 communities, Rural Technology Facilities in 21 Districts and the training of 3,600 entrepreneurs in various micro and small-scale enterprise skills.

Madam Tetteh disclosed that the Ministry was on the verge of acquiring a 2,000 acre land for the establishment of the Sekondi Industrial Estate that would provide basic amenities for prospective businesses to be located in the estate.
According to her, those businesses were expected to take advantage of the Takoradi port to export their goods and products.

On multilateral and foreign trade, Madam Tetteh said government fully recognised that international trading rules had a direct impact on Ghana’s development, especially in a globalised world.

Ghana, she said, was, therefore, involved in five sets of interlinked international trade negotiations, namely the WTO Doha Development Agenda, negotiations within Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the achievement of a Customs Union and efforts to secure the full implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

The others, she said, were a single ECOWAS Currency, Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union and the trade and economic integration of Africa through the establishment of an African Free Trade Area.

Madam Tetteh announced that the establishment of a second Monetary Zone towards a single currency in the ECOWAS sub-region has been rescheduled for 2015.

According to the Trade and Industry Minister, the Customs Union negotiation process was expected to have been completed by 2014 for the adoption of a Common External Tariff by ECOWAS member states while all member states would have met the convergence criteria by 2015.

She indicated that negotiations within ECOWAS for the establishment of a Customs Union and a single ECOWAS Currency Zone as well as efforts to secure the full implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme were in progress.
Source: GBC

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