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21.11.2007 General News

We must define national interest vis-à-vis China - Participants


Participants at a roundtable have called for a clear definition of Ghana's national interests in her quest to exploit economic, social, political and cultural opportunities in her relationship with China.

They held that establishing a clear broad national agenda in which relationship with the rest of the world could fit was a necessary first step to reaping the potential benefits of enhanced trade with China.

The forum, organized by the Development Policy Institute was to stimulate discussions on whether Ghana needed to fashion out a China policy to profit from its relationship with that country.

Between 2000 and 2005, Ghana's imports from China rose from US$93.1 million to US$433.7 million, an increase of about 366 per cent but Ghana's exports to China increased by only 26.4 per cent from US$24.7 million to US$31.3 million during the same period.

Nana Akomea, Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment said the increasing role of China in the world economy was real and required effective policies to harness the accrued benefits.

He said any broad policy must take into account the importance of the production and consumption of goods locally.

According to him it made economic sense to promote local production through the offer of preferential credit, discriminatory tariffs while at the same time reducing the high levels of imports.

In addition, government could put its weight behind some companies in line with the national plan and vision.

Nana Akomea said although the trade policy of China was predatory, Ghana could adopt a two-prong approach to benefit from the relationship.

These are exploiting joint venture opportunities for local firms with capacity in certain industry and their Chinese counterparts in areas such as textiles, adopt a phased programme for areas without local capacity and restrict entry for foreigners, especially in retail trade.

Mr Anthony Oteng-Gyasi, President of the Association of Ghana Industries, said industries were losing out from the China challenge and said survival depended on a quick consideration of Ghana's interest.

He said if the productive sector would survive the China scare, it was important to evolve a China policy that would encourage joint ventureship, purchase of plant and equipment and discussions on sector by sector basis.

Mr Sal Amegavie, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there was the need to adopt a selection of products that targeted different segments of the Chinese markets.

There was also the need to sharpen negotiation skills.

Professor Kwame Karikari, President Media Foundation for West Africa, said Ghana could only benefit in her relationship with China only through a clear definition of the national interest.

Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Executive Director, Development Policy Institute, said the Chinese phenomenon called for a non-partisan approach to Ghana adopting a position vis-à-vis China.

Source: GNA