Accra, Feb 15, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Tuesday launched Ghana's Trade Policy to provide guidelines for the Government to push the private sector to function as the engine of growth to propel the economy to achieve a per capita income of 1,000 dollars by 2012.
In line with this, the document focuses on seven key areas to facilitate the creation of a thriving agro-industrial economy to create jobs, reduce poverty and enhance Ghana's achievement of a middle-income economy with a growth rate of about 10 per cent.
The current per capita income is 400 dollars, while the growth rate is 5.8 per cent.
The areas captured are: Multilateral Trade; Creating A Fair and Transparent Import-Export Regime; Facilitating Trade; Enhancing Production Capacity and Domestic and Export Markets; Domestic Trade and Distribution; Consumer Protection and Fair Trade and Protection of
Intellectual and Property Rights.
Vice President Mahama noted that the comprehensive policy document recognized Ghana's peculiar circumstances as a growing economy and therefore considered how the country could both maximize its opportunities in global trade and cushion local industries to thrive.
"For us in Ghana," he said, "trade policy must not only deal with market access issues but of necessity also deal with supply side constraints."
"I am pleased that this document... reflects this important consideration and responds to most challenges we face in this country....
"These challenges, among others, include how to maximize benefits from the nation's participation in multilateral, bilateral and regional integration negotiations."
Vice President Mahama stressed the importance of trade, saying it provided a crucial means for the poor to participate in economic activities to earn their living and extricate themselves from poverty.
He, therefore, gave the assurance that the policy would work in tandem with the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Private Sector Development Strategy towards the Government's broad objective of creating a Golden Age of Business.
Private sector operators, civil society groups, development partners and other stakeholders should embrace the document, he urged. Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said the policy, initiated about a year ago, was formulated through extensive consultations with stakeholders and incorporate relevant existing trade documents and more than 100 studies on trade.
He gave the assurance that between March and May, a five-year implementation program dubbed, "The Private Sector Support Programme" would be formulated to drive the policy.
The programme would identify financial, technical and managerial sources to back the private sector, among other functions.
Nana Akomea, who represented the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade and Industry, said the Ghanaian entrepreneur should be at the centre of the implementation of both the policy and programme and suggested constant dialogue between government and the private sector. Mrs Emma Mitchel, a former Minister of Trade and Industry, who chaired the ceremony, commended the government for not ignoring existing trade documents, but maintaining the crucial ones.
She urged the government to provide a strong political will to be able to actualise the objectives of the policy.
Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, Mr Kwasi Adu-Amankwah,
Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Mr Osei Boeh-Ocansey, a member of the Governing Council of the Private Sector Foundation and the Ambassador of the Netherlands delivered solidarity messages, which invariably called for action beyond words.
A crowd from all sectors of the economy attended the ceremony held at the main chamber of the Accra International Conference Centre.