A Business initiative to boost trade between Ghana and West Africa and the United States of America has been launched.
Spearheaded by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the U.S.-ECOWAS Business Initiative (USEBI) is expected to serve as a trade and advocacy coalition between the two entities.
The Vice President in charge of African Affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr Scott Eisner, who announced the initiative at a news briefing in Accra, said the aim of the whole initiative was to promote trade and strengthen economic and commercial ties between the United States and ECOWAS.
The target, however, is to drive about three million of its members to do business in the sub-region.
“One of the major obstacles to establishing business in the ECOWAS region is the lack of efficient infrastructure and corporate governance. USEBI works with American and ECOWAS policymakers and partners to find appropriate solutions to such obstacles to promote better integration of this initiative,” he said.
He added that improved infrastructure and better governance would facilitate trade and attract foreign investors, resulting in business opportunities for companies, to aid the alleviation of poverty and spur rapid and sustainable economic growth.
The USEBI would advocate a U.S.-ECOWAS free trade agreement that would focus on promoting increased trade and investment in a mutually beneficial manner.
It also seeks to remove obstacles to trade and investment, thereby creating a limited number of working task force to address cutting-edge issues as well as strengthen U.S.-ECOWAS cooperation on energy.
The five priority areas the initiative is looking at is in respect to energy and gas, ICT, food and agriculture, banking and finance, retail and supply chain.
SMEs must build capacity
The Executive Secretary of the American Chamber of Commerce, Ghana, Mr Simon Madjie, urged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to build their capacity in order to meet global standards requirement as they targeted to do business with other countries.
SMEs normally shy away from expanding into international markets as a result of the perceived stringent requirements they need to adhere to in order to engage in international trade.
Mr. Madjie, however, explained that SMEs must see the challenge of meeting these requirements as an opportunity to build their capacity.
“I believe that our SMEs should rather see that as an opportunity to grow their businesses to become global firms, because if you build capacity to export to the United States of America (USA), it means that you can export to any part of the world,” he said.
The Ghana chapter of the U.S Based group is a voluntary association of professional and business people working to create an environment where business can thrive between Ghanaian and their American counterparts.
Explaining further, he said, “They shouldn’t see it as an impediment, but rather as an opportunity to build the capacity to become global firms. It is also an opportunity to upgrade their skills.”
Mr Eisner also alluded to the fact that a lot of SMEs are privy to the opportunities presented by global trade partnership but then there was the challenge of filling the capacity needed to take advantage of it.
He, however, advised that “If you want to export to the global market the last thing you should look at is the paper work. The concern should be whether you can fill the order once the paper work is done because a lot of SMEs have a challenge with the capacity needed.”