Private sector seeks UNCTAD’s assistance
The Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF), the private sector umbrella organisation, has called on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to provide a wide range of technical assistance to Ghana to enable it to penetrate the international market.
According to PEF, the trade and development technical body of the UN should use its 12th conference to be hosted in Accra this month, April 20 to 25, to help the country to address challenges that its non-traditional exports faced.
"We recommend that UNCTAD XII should be used as an opportunity to address the challenges of the country's non-traditional exports strategy by providing technical assistance to our member companies in the form of development of knowledge and capacity to help them to meet international trade requirements," a draft common position of PEF presented to the government has stated.
The UNCTAD conference, held every four years, takes far reaching decisions that impact on international trade and development and the Accra conference would, among other things, examine the various economic impacts of globalisation, including its effect on poverty reduction, wealth and employment generation and income distribution.
The conference will also pay attention to some of the issues facing Africa, and the private sector in Ghana would take advantage to get attention for some of the pressing needs of the country.
PEF said having examined the Ghanaian economy, it realised there were certain factors that would affect the growth and efficiency of the private sector in the years ahead as well as the long term development goals of the government.
Such factors include the lack of entrepreneurial skills, the lack of full appreciation of the challenges of globalisation, inadequate financial and human resources required for business growth, adverse terms of trade and a narrow tax base, among others.
There was also institutional weaknesses, chronic dependence on a few export commodities, energy crisis and supply side constraints that affect the private sector's ability to expand to meet growing market demands.
PEF said the country also lacked sufficient understanding of ongoing multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), whose final outcomes were likely to impact on businesses of member states.
The private sector body, therefore, called on UNCTAD XII to help the country to deal with technical and artificial trade barriers such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary.
In addition, UNCTAD should partner with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to provide the country as well as the entire sub-Saharan African region with technical assistance for value added processing of non-traditional export items, which in the case of Ghana included pineapple, mangoes, tomatoes and even cocoa.
"UNCTAD should assist Ghana to enhance its capacity to monitor commodity markets and to formulate strategic policies to deal with the challenges of over-supply, attain competitiveness and meeting the required quality standards," PEF said.
PEF also expressed its position on aid for trade, where it called for the scaling up of aid to Ghana, specifically to assist the private sector.
It said the services sector held enormous potential for the country's development and called on UNCTAD to help the private sector to partner the government to develop the information and communications technology (ICT), insurance and financial services, engineering services and health care services among others.
Ghana's private sector also needed technical assistance to play a more frontal role in multilateral and regional trade issues.
The PEF meeting to draft the input paper was also attended by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade and Industry as well as other professional bodies, such as consultants, insurance industry players and hotel services providers.
PEF is made up of six private sector bodies, namely the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the Ghana Bankers Association (GAB), the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), the Ghana Employers Association and the Ghana Chamber of Mines.