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12.04.2005 Business & Finance

Ghanaians demonstrate against unfair world trade

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Accra, April 12, GNA- A number of civil society groups in Ghana on Tuesday organised a demonstration at the office of the World Bank in Accra against what they described as unfair world trade rules and practises.

They joined the over 50 countries worldwide in " The Big Showdown Against Trade Injustice being organised by non-governmental organisations (NGO) like Action on Trade in Ghana, Oxfam and Christian Aid UK.

The demonstration coincided with the launching of this year's Global Monitoring Report by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, via video conference for journalists in Accra and other cities in Africa, Britain and the US.

The protestors mainly farmers carried placards some of which read: "Make Trade Work For The Poor As A Human Right", "Ghana Rice Is Good For You, Good For The Country" and " Trade is A Human Right Issue, Make It Just".

Mr Ibrahim Akalbilla, Programme Officer at the Integrated Social Development Centre, an NGO, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the demonstration was a week of action on trade and was aimed at influencing global and local policies on trade. "The action is also meant to influence the livelihood of the majority of Ghanaians who are farmers."

Mr Akalbilla expressed the need for Government to be proactive to protect the interests of local farmers and producers. Mr Lawrence Agorsor a Poultry Farmer also told the GNA that the saturation of the Ghanaian market with imported poultry products had affected his business.

" I use to produce 150 crates of eggs a week now I produce only 20 crates a week", he said.

Mr Agorsor expressed the need for the Government to offer technical support to farmers through research findings.

In a reaction to the demonstration, Mr Mats Karlson, World Bank Country Director told a press conference that the Bank supports the notion that developing countries must earn their income through export. He said the Bank was not against the reintroduction of agricultural subsidies, explaining that the financial institution supports every intervention that leads to greater productivity.

Mr Karlson however said the opposition of the Bank's against the imposition of trade tariffs was that it tended to increased prices and fuelled inflation, adding " No country develops by increasing tariffs. He said Government needed to improve on road networks and reduce the cost of transporting food to marketing centres to cut down prices.

Mr Karlson said all constraints facing local entrepreneurs should be removed stressing: " Ghana must set its own house in order". He said the current national interest rate was forbiddingly high. The Country Director said the World Bank was arguing for Ghana to have access to the global market, adding "both the World Bank and the IMF are pro-poor".

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