Professor Stephen Adei, Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration on Wednesday asked Ghanaian trade officials to develop practically oriented policies that would enhance the competitiveness of Ghana in the international export market.
According to him it was just not enough going round the world telling investors of the availability of cheap labour without providing them with the supporting infrastructure for smooth operation.
"It is time to move away from relying solely on comparative advantage in the production of goods and services and re-think plans of attracting investment using the competitive advantage of the country in the provision of reliable infrastructure and the ease with which business operations were carried out," he said.
Prof. Adei was speaking at a three-day sub-regional workshop on export competitiveness being attended by government officials and private sector representatives from Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone.
The workshop organised by the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat is to map out plans to overcome the challenges that render countries in the sub-region uncompetitive in the global export market.
It would also enable stakeholders learn from best practices across the world and to adapt the experiences in enhancing export competitiveness at home and also raise awareness on the benefits of collaboration between various sectors of the economy to support export growth.
Prof. Adei said a good legal and regulatory framework backed by efficient public service, reliable energy supply, transportation and telecommunication services as well as a high calibre of labour were critical for pulling in investors.
In address at the opening session, Mr. Kwadwo Affram Asiedu, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, said a country's export success depended on innovation, value addition, quality assurance, consistency and customisation as well as benchmarking against international best practices.
He said economies in the new world could only survive by being competitive, adding that this was crucial if the countries were to survive in the current globalised economy.
Mr. Asiedu said governments within the sub-region would continue to offer their support and implement the necessary measures to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the spirit of public-private partnership.
Government, he said, was providing various incentives to lower the cost of export production and enhance competitiveness in the international markets.
Some of these incentives include, facilitation of access to and provision of support such as cash payments and tax rebates, ensuring effective duty drawback and VAT refund on all imported inputs for export production and provision of concessionary finance to the export sector.
Mr Edward Collins Boateng, Executive Secretary of GEPC, said the mere adoption of a competition law is not a panacea of ensuring export competitiveness.
Rather, he said, significant effort must be made to ensure smooth implementation of competition policies to have the desired developmental effects.
Mr Boateng said exports have a strategic role to accelerate growth that would enable the countries to make the transition into a middle-income status.
But this would only be achieved through being competitive at both the country and corporate levels.
Mr. George Saibel, Director, Special Advisory Services Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, said to achieve competitiveness it was important to elicit the commitment of both public and private sector at the inception of projects.