THE UNITED States government has expressed confidence in the Ghanaian economy in spite of its ups and downs.
Having been chosen to host the 6th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, which begins on July 16, 2007 and ends on July 19, 2007 in Accra, the U.S says Ghana has demonstrated progress towards establishing a market-based economy, protection of human and workers rights and political pluralism.
At a one-day seminar to sensitize the media ahead of the forum in Accra, Susan Driano, Chief of the Economic Section of the United States embassy in Accra described Ghana as “a strong performer”.
She stressed that since the coming into force of AGOA in May 2000, Ghana and other African countries have taken advantage of the opportunities presented.
She believes this has doubled United States' trade with sub Saharan Africa, emphasizing “Ghanaian firms have been among the most successful in finding opportunities in the U.S market and meeting the requirements of the U.S market and its consumers for high quality, moderately priced goods”.
To buttress her point, Mrs. Driano cited a Ghanaian apparel firm, which produces specialized clothing for hunters as well as hundreds of thousands of T-shirts that are sold at Wal-Mart, one of the largest retailers in the United States as a typical example of Ghanaian companies taking advantage of the opportunities available.
AGOA is considered to be a symbol of the United States' belief in the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa and in the vast potential that Africans have to determine their own prosperity.
It provides enhanced access to the U.S market for eligible countries.
As a result of AGOA and other trade provisions such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), nearly all goods produced in other beneficiary countries have duty-free access to the U.S market.
In order to be eligible for AGOA, African countries must demonstrate progress towards establishing a market-based economy, protection of human and workers' rights and political pluralism.
The legislation that established AGOA provides for the provision of technical assistance to eligible countries and annual Ministerial level consultations.
Through technical assistance programmes, the United States government is helping AGOA-eligible countries including Ghana to improve their capacity to compete and trade under AGOA.
Available statistics indicate that the U.S trade capacity funding for sub Saharan Africa reached US$394million in 2006 fiscal year, an increase of 95percent over the 2005 figure and has cumulatively totaled over $1billion since 2001.
To provide technical assistance, the United States has created 4 Trade Hubs throughout Africa, with one in Accra serving 21 countries in west and central Africa.
The three other Trade Hubs are situated in Kenya, Botswana and Senegal.
These Trade Hubs are valuable resources for smaller firms that have quality products.
However, Mrs. Driano says they need some advice and assistance to market their goods successfully.
The Trade Hub in Accra seeks to create business linkages between U.S and Ghanaian firms and accompany them to trade fairs in the states.
The Hub follows up with advice and assistance in pursuing leads and fulfilling orders.
Over the past year, the assistance offered by the Trade Hub has resulted in more than U.S $3million worth of Ghanaian exports to the United States.
Dozens of Ghanaian artisans who work with the 'Aid to Artisans' group have benefited.
This has garnered repeat business from a major U.S marketer of handicrafts.
Information has it that another client has secured orders totaling more than U.S$200,000 to provide moderately priced and fashionable shirts to a major retailer.
The U.S government is thus looking forward to the upcoming AGOA forum.
The forum would present an opportunity to discuss ideas and share experiences with governments, private sector and civil society on ways to increase and diversify U.S and Africa trade and promote alliances that will help Africans realise the full potential of U.S-Africa trade and economic ties.
“We are committed to working with Africans to build on the success of AGOA and enable even more entrepreneurs, especially from small and medium seized enterprises, to benefit from the opportunities it offers and to contribute to expanding prosperity throughout the continent” says Mrs. Driano of the Economic Section of the U.S embassy in Ghana.