Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, has asked Government officials and private citizens who travel outside Ghana to take advantage of such visits to promote investment opportunities in Ghana. He said such officials should not travel just for their specific meetings and events to which they have been invited, but they should arrange with Ghana’s Embassies abroad to organize meetings with investors to market the numerous opportunities in Ghana, to enable the country derive the maximum benefits.
The Trade and Industry Minister, made this suggestion when the Spanish Ambassador, Maria F Alonso, paid him a courtesy call at his office recently.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah said, Ghana and Spain have had extensive collaboration over many decades and bilateral trade had seen an increase in trade volumes to the advantage of Spain. “We need to reverse this trend, said the Minister” ‘As a country, we cannot have a programme to reduce imports from Spain, what we are doing is to launch a campaign to promote goods and services produced in Ghana, especially for exports’, he said.
“Over the years, our focus has been on generic trade but if we are to reduce our trade deficits, then we also have to focus on investments that add value to our natural resources. This requires more agro-processing , for example converting cocoa and fruits into chocolates, juices and other products for the local and export market”, the Minister added.
Dr. Spio- Garbrah intimated that what Ghanaians want now is to see Spanish companies coming to Ghana to add value to our raw materials for the domestic and foreign market. The Minister hoped that his tenure will see an increase in the promotion of foreign direct investment into Ghana, as against import-led trade which has not favored Ghanaians. On the issue of the proposed bilateral investment treaty with Spain, Dr. Spio-Garbrah was of the view that such treaties were important and needed to be signed and ratified in order to give foreign investors the necessary comfort. He noted, however, that such agreements were far from being “bilateral” as it was quite unlikely that any Ghanaian companies, in the short term, would be making any significant investments in Spain.
The Minister noted that Ghana has signed many bilateral investment agreements, these have been more for the benefit of other countries and could well have been called unilateral agreements to protect investments from other countries.
According to the Minister, another area where Ghana has good potential is in cotton production where Ghana could grow and process cotton into textiles and garments for the Spanish market thereby adding value to an important raw material.
In her remarks, the Spanish Ambassador, Maria F. Alonso said her visit was to deepen the commercial exchange that has existed between the two countries. She said that in 2006, a bilateral investment treaty was negotiated and Spain has ratified it but Ghana is yet to ratify to make it operational. The Ambassador requested the Minister to encourage the early signing and ratifying this treaty.
The objective of the bilateral agreement is to promote two-way investment in both countries. This, according to the Ambassador, is a win-win situation where both countries stand the chance to derive the maximum benefit. She noted that with Ghana’s continued successful growth, it would soon be possible for Ghanaians to also invest in Spain.
In attendance at the meetings were Celia Perez, Head of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy, Mr. DawarnobaBaeka, Chief Director and Mr. Nyame Baafi, Director of Multilateral and Bilateral Trade of the Ministry