The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, has restated government's commitment to supporting the African Bureau of the United States of America's (US.A.'s) Chamber of Commerce to expand Ghana's trade with the U.S.A.
The Vice President, who was speaking at the opening of the 4th Annual Africa American Chamber of Commerce Summit in Accra, yesterday, observed that in the Africa-US trade, the US side had many advantages, such as developed structures which guaranteed U.S investors, but no attention was being given to Africa's lack of access to finance and the supportive infrastructure.
He said the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) had been the major instrument in promoting Africa's exports, adding that, non-oil exports of AGOA countries to the U.S. had more than tripled since AGOA was enacted in 2000.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur expressed concern over the global financial crisis which, according to him, had had a severe impact on U.S-Africa trade which might pose a threat to the sustainability of AGOA's successes.
He said Africa's export to the U.S. had been severely impacted in several key export sectors, especially in the agriculture and textile sectors, adding that U.S.-Africa trade declined by about 50% last year.
He, therefore, called for a change in the U.S.-Africa relationship from one of donor and recipient to that of business partners, especially in key countries and critical sectors.
He noted that cocoa prices had cumulatively declined by about 20% in 2011, while, Gold suffered a decline of about 25% in 2011.
"In 2013, Ghana lost $1.3 billion potential export revenue due to price declines on these two exports. These have put pressure on our foreign reserves and contributed to the high rates of currency depreciation," Vice President Amissah-Arthur said.
Presenting a paper on "Making a case for the American Brand," the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Gene Cretz, stated that when president Obama came to Africa last year, he emphasised that a key element of his engagement with Africa had been to promote trade and investment that could create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ambassador Cretz noted that it would be difficult to realise this without assistance, resources and leadership from African American Chamber Summit (AmChams).
He said their willingness to partner through co-ordinated messaging or joint actions were the best way to ensure that their efforts whether to promote a new company entering the marketplace or to contest polices inimical to investment yield the needed results.
Hosted by the Africa Bureau of the US Chamber of Commerce, the two-day summit, on the theme Building the American Brand" is being attended by Amcham members from sub-Sahara Africa, US Government officials, Government of Ghana dignitaries and the US Chamber of Commerce executives.
Conference participants will discuss various strategies designed to drive the growth of US private sector investment and bilateral trade with Africa.
Participants will also discuss US Government policies and initiatives aimed at accelerating the development of African economies, a release from AmCham Ghana said.
Source: ISD (Raymond Kwofie)