As part of efforts to achieve Ghana’s $10 billion dollar foreign direct investment(FDI) target for 2018, the country has in the past few weeks hosted different Trade Missions from a number of countries including Slovenia, Turkey and Belgium.
All the trade missions have made it an objective to first of all find local partners in Ghana, import their products and then subsequently consider setting up manufacturing plants in Ghana.
The latest trade mission to Ghana has over fifty Belgian companies from the three regions of Belgium namely Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels who are looking to exploit possible business partnerships during their visit to the country.
Some of the companies include A-Law International Law Firm, ACB Group, COMEXAS Group, Donaldson Filtration Solutions and Puratos among others.
The companies represent various sectors such as health, environment, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and construction.
The rest are energy, education, water supply, sanitation and Information Communication Technology (ICT).
The Minister for Planning, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, said at a forum that Ghana needs to engage the foreign trade missions with the full realization that it is competing with other countries in the West African sub-region.
“A lot of the foreign businesses want to come to West Africa, and the question is whether it will be Ghana or another West African country. So it is up to us to let them know what the difference is between Ghana and the other countries so that Ghana becomes the destination of choice. We need continuously to have a government that is friendly to businesses and private sector in general, and that is how this government is trying to position itself. Once we are able to do that effectively we will get investors in.”
For one of the lead person on the Belgium trade mission to Ghana, Johan Malin, who is a Project Manager at Flanders Investment and Trade, even though Ghana’s is a favored destination, other countries within the sub-region are also competing to take business away from Ghana.
“You start with exports and then eventually consider investments. Currently I know of two big companies who are looking at different West African countries to invest in. What I can say for certain is that Ghana is a stable destination for businesses.”
According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Ghana’s Imports from Belgium was US$718.81 Million dollars during 2017, while Ghana’s Exports to Belgium was US$155.8 Million during 2017.
For Professor Gyan-Baffour, Ghana will have to do all it can for now to position itself as the best investment destination in order to balance the trade numbers between the 2 countries.
“We have to showcase ourselves to these countries out there, mainly because they don’t know us very well. So we have to market ourselves as an investment destination and not just in-terms of general trade. Currently we import everything, and that can’t be changed overnight. The best way forward will be to let these foreign missions to come and invest in Ghana so that whatever they want to export to other destinations especially to other West African countries, will be manufactured here.”