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22.02.2006 Business & Finance

Ghana re-joins Exim Bank after six years

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Accra, Feb. 22, GNA - Ghana has been reinstated on the US Exim Bank cover for both public and private sector companies after being blacklisted for six years.

This means that American companies that may invest in Ghana could now access short, medium and long-term financing from the Exim bank. President John Agyekum Kufuor, who announced this at the opening of the 10th Ghana International Trade Fair in Accra, said the re-instatement was as a result of the macro-economic stability and the general improvement in the economy.

He said government had continued to embark on various programmes and initiatives to open up the country and make it an attractive destination for business as well as stabilize the economy and prepare it for growth and accelerated development.

This involved massive infrastructural development in terms of roads, ports and harbours, telecommunications and improved social services delivery as well as the introduction of various President's initiatives in Cassava, Oil palm, salt, sorghum, maize and cotton as a means of diversifying the economy and adding value to exports. Besides, investors are also being encouraged to access the Export Processing Zones to facilitate the development of export-oriented businesses.

President Kufuor also cited the Trade Sector Support Programme, which was launched last year as one special programme that aimed to increase the country's competitiveness in international and domestic markets and improving the legal and regulatory environment for both business and consumers.

As part of the programme, trade promotion and frontline agencies, such as Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Customs and Excise and Preventive Service, among others are being strengthened and resourced to play their facilitating roles more effectively. President Kufuor said the financing needs of businesses were being addressed through the establishment of various credit lines and facilities such as EDIF and the Venture Fund to micro and small-scale industries.

To further deepen the contributions of Ghanaian businesses, the President said government had decided to waive the penalty they incurred from the failure to pay the tax on time to give them a new lease of life.

He said this was being done with the hope that prompt and voluntary tax compliance by the businesses would become the new order. "This is also to allow companies to grow their businesses and take advantage of new opportunities which government is making available to them, especially through the banks."

President Kufuor lauded the decision of the Trade Fair Company Limited to organize the International Trade Fair annually but asked them to ensure that the Fairs did not become mere rituals. "The critical business issues must always be in evidence and must be handled in a manner that will make participants feel that the fair is good value for money," he said.

He said the Fair Company ought to know that the global exhibition industry had become highly complex and competitive and that only competence, dedication and aggressive marketing would guarantee success. President Kufuor, therefore urged management systems that are responsive to international practices must be adopted for the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre.

Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade and Industry, said government was in the process of establishing a e-commerce website to enable Ghanaian products to be displayed in the gallery. He urged Exhibitors and visitors to form linkages to fully benefit from the fair.

Ms Esther Ofori, Chief Executive, of the Ghana Trade Fair Company, said the Board and Management of the Company was pursuing an agenda to transform the Trade Fair Centre from the present trade exhibitions focus to a modern multi-purpose Trade Centre Complex. This will comprise a hotel complex, a convention hall, a cinema hall and exhibition halls, among others.

She said the Trade Fair Company was currently looking for a strategic partner to help transform the Trade Fair Centre. Ms. Ofori, therefore, called for the recapitalisation of the Company to able to meet the transformation process.

About 800 exhibitors, made up of 700 local firms and 100 foreign ones, are showcasing their products at the two-week fair on the theme: "Networking to Unlock Ghana's Trade Potentials." Feb 22 06