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10.04.2006 Business & Finance

Ghana's agriculture labour force declines

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Accra, April 10, GNA - The Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF) on Monday said between 1984 and 2000 the agricultural labour force declined by about 10 percentage points from 61.1 per cent to 50.7 per cent. Dr Osei Boeh-Ocansey, Chief Executive of PEF, said it was thus wrong for speech writers for politicians to continue to feed the nation with the figure that 60 per cent of Ghana's population was in agriculture.

He said according to the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) Three and Four and 2000 population census by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) the service sector total employment increased by seven percentage points during the period (1984-2000) from 26.1 per cent to 33 per cent.

Contributing to a discussion at a national seminar on The State-of-Play of the various negotiating issues on the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Accra, Dr Boeh-Ocansey said the industrial sector share in total employment during the period increased only by 3.5 per cent from 12.8 in 1984 to 3 per cent in 2000.

He agreed with other participants that for Ghana and for that matter Africa to gain from the World Trade they must increase their production levels and sharpen technical negotiating skills.

Mr Edwini Kessie, Counsellor, Council and Trade Negotiations Committee Division of the WTO and the lead resource person, said African countries must show resilience in their political and economic policies that would make them to benefit from multi-lateral trade negotiations. He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would have been of immense help in sub-regional trading activities if the member countries had followed their own protocols.

Mr Kessie said developing countries could criticise the multi-lateral system under which the WTO operated but studies revealed that countries, which liberalised their trade policies stood to gain more than entering into unilateral and bilateral trade agreements. "We need to have realignment of policies to produce...Africa is not competitive enough in the face of free trade groupings."

On the benefits of trade to developing countries, Kessie said there was general acceptance that trade was the engine of economic growth and development, which fact developing countries accepted and were determined to participate effectively in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations and to play a greater role in the multi-lateral trading system.

Mr Kwadwo Affram Asiedu, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, in opening the three-day seminar, said the adoption and declaration of the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting were cleared yet it had variously been interpreted and assessed by people from diverse background including Government officials, the academia, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and journalists.

Mr Asiedu said: "These assessments are largely informed by the pre-conference expectations of those who have been making them. "To almost all of them the results were disappointing but to those who were involved in the pre-conference negotiations in Geneva, including the Ghana delegation, however, what was achieved in Hong Kong was, realistically speaking, not so disappointing and unexpected."

Mr Asiedu urged the participants to study the WTO agreement carefully to ensure that during the implementation process of the Hong Kong Declaration Ghana could achieve what was of interest to her.