ADDRESS DELIVERED BY VEEP DR. BAWUMIA AT THE END OF NATIONAL POLICY SUMMIT IN ACCRA
| Updated Aug 16, 2017 at 5:00am
THE OFFICIAL CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE NATIONAL POLICY SUMMIT ON TRADE AND INDUSTRY
KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY
H.E. DR. ALHAJI MAHAMADU BAWUMIA,
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
THE ACCRA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
15TH AUGUST, 2017 AT 3:00PM
HON. MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION
HON. MINISTERS OF STATE
HIGH COMMISSIONERS /AMBASSADORS
HON. DEPUTY MINISTERS
CHIEF DIRECTOR, DIRECTORS AND HEADS OF MDAs,
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF STATE INSTITUTIONS
CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRIES AND COMMERCE,
OUR DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS,
DISTRICT CHIEF EXECUTIVES (DCEs)
DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS,
FRIENDS FROM THE MEDIA,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
1. I am very delighted to have this opportunity to join you at this official closing session of a very important 2-day National Policy Summit under the theme ‘The Industrial Transformation of Ghana’ aimed at interacting with stakeholders on the new agenda on trade and industry.
2. I am reliably informed that the participation in the 2-day programme has been exceptionally encouraging, very interactive and not surprisingly productive. I am particularly impressed by the list of private sector participants who have taken time out of their busy schedules to be part of this conversation.
3. A policy summit is at its core an ideas summit. And we need smart, bold and innovative ideas to move this country forward to where all of us want to be – a prosperous Ghana, creating prosperity and opportunities for all. Your willingness to be part of this summit demonstrate your confidence in our transformational agenda as an important vehicle to move this country forward.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
4. The two-day deliberations have been interactive, the best way to share ideas. And I believe that the conclusions reached have emerged out of consensus building. This is yet another indication of the approach that this government intends to follow in our conversations with the private sector – to open up and provide spaces for dialogue, to be a listening facilitator, and determined to use bottom–up approaches to policy formulation and decision making. That is the best way to pursue our 10-point industrial development agenda captured under the following initiatives:
i. One District one Factory
ii. Establishment of Industrial Parks
iii. Strategic Anchor Industries
iv. Stimulus Package
v. Enhancement of Domestic Trade
vi. Exports Diversification
vii. SME Development
viii. Industrial Sub-contracting and Partnership
ix. Business Regulatory Reforms
x. Regular Public-Private Sector Dialogue
CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (CFTA)
5. Our trade and industrial agenda should be seen as part of a continental agenda. Ghana would soon enjoy the privileges under the Continental Free Trade Agreement. This brings to fruition a resolution passed at the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union Held in Addis Ababa in January, 2012 with the objective to:
a. Create single continental market for goods and services with free movement of business persons and investments;
b. Expand intra African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes;
c. Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships in regional economic groupings;
d. Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level by taking advantage of the opportunities of
i. economies of scale in production,
ii. access to continental markets and
iii. better reallocation of our resources across the continent.
6. The Ministry of Trade and Industry would in the coming months engage stakeholders and sensitize the business community on this new continental directions. We need your inputs. We want to encourage you to expand your perspectives on the emerging Africa. We as government will continue to engage in dialogue. In the end it is your bold entrepreneurial skills and your competitiveness that will determine how far and how much Ghana can take advantage of the opportunities of continental free trade.
7. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, Ghana fully participated in the 16th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum held in Lome, from 7th to 10th August, 2017 under the theme’ United States and Africa: Partnering for Prosperity through Trade.
8. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a strategic framework through which Ghana seeks to expand bilateral trade and investment with the United States. AGOA provides Ghana a duty-free and quota-free access to the US market. This scheme was renewed in 2015 for another ten (10) years, up to 2025. We have 8 more years to make effective use of this preferential market access schemes. We can only do this if government and the private sector work together, with government only as a facilitator.
9. The Ministry of Trade and Industry, with the support of the USAID Ghana Mission, has come out with a National AGOA strategy for Ghana. It provides a strategic approach to enable Ghana to export a wide range of products, including Cocoa Products; Apparel; Handicrafts; Shea Butter; Palm Oil; Sea Foods; Root Crops such as Yam; Fruits and Vegetables; and Cashew Nuts.
10. The strategy document was validated at a stakeholders’ meeting on 27th July, 2017. I would like to stress that the implementation of this strategy has the potential to help Ghanaian businesses to expand and create jobs whilst promoting growth of entrepreneurship with emphasis on young Ghanaians.
11. Again like the Continental Free Trade, government would work with the private sector to provide targeted interventions to enable Ghana tap into opportunities provided under the AGOA initiative
GHANA INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION ACT 926
12. CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY/COMMERCE, The Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) would provide for the regulation of the international trade of Ghana in conformity with the rules and regulations of the world trade system. The Commission would look into complaints brought forward by the private sector in such matters as
a. subsidies of imported products by foreign governments;
b. dumping of imported products into the domestic market;
c. tariff adjustments;
d. settlement of disputes between importers and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and
e. any other measure which affects fair trade.
Government would in the coming days officially inaugurate the Commission to deal with unfair trade issues and enhance the competiveness of the local private sector, and contribute in making the ten key industrial transformation agenda a reality.
MID YEAR BUDGET
13. Trade Balance
Provisional estimates show that Ghana’s trade account recorded a surplus of US$1,429 million for the first half of 2017 largely because of significant increase in export earnings combined with lower imports. This compares to an almost equivalent deficit of US$1,403.7 million over the same period in 2016.
14. It is our hope that there will be greater improvements in trade balance as we implement a strategy to stimulate industry and increase export competitiveness. These of course will also depend on industry productivity which in turn depends, among other things, on how fast and how deep we incorporate technology in the way we produce goods and services in this country.
a. To stimulate economic activities and to demonstrate our commitment to stimulate industry and for the private sector as a whole, the Minister of Finance in the 2017 Budget introduced a number of bold initiatives. In line with the government’s view that we cannot tax our way to grow the economy, we have successfully reviewed or abolished the following.
a) Abolished the 1 percent Special Import Levy on imported raw materials and machinery;
b) Abolished the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on financial services;
c) Abolished the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on airline tickets;
d) Abolished the excise duty on petroleum to reduce the excess burden on final consumers;
e) Reduced the special petroleum tax rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent to mitigate the excess burden on final consumers;
f) Abolished the 5 percent VAT flat rate on the sale of real estate;
g) Abolished import duty on spare parts;
h) Exempted from tax, the gains from the realization of securities listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
That is not all. We are working very hard to remove bottlenecks in all aspects of doing business. These among other initiatives demonstrate Government’s readiness to do its part if we are going to create and sustain the environment you need to expand opportunities and create jobs for a prosperous Ghana. We can do more but not without your tangible responsiveness to grow and expand.
LADIES AND GENTLEMENT,
15. On May 17, 2017 we organized a conference on how to improve port operations and management efficiency in Ghana. We brought together a number of stakeholders including some of the best port operators in the world from Antwerp, Dubai and Singapore. We learnt that our ports have lagged behind in all areas of port operations and port operations themselves have become bottlenecks for our competitiveness.
16. Our aim is to change the face of operations at the ports so we can meet international standards and improve our trade competitiveness whilst making the most out of our ports as national assets.
17. We would not tolerate the inexplicable charges, delays, lack of transparency and the overall complexities in the operations at the ports. We are moving from a system of applying sub- standard and unnecessary complex procedures at the port to a system which meets international standards and in conformity with Trade Facilitation Agreement.
18. The Pilot for the paperless project at the Port should begin at the end of this week so that we can iron out any difficulties ahead of full implementation. I must say the stakeholders – shippers, clearing agents, Customs, GCNET, West Blue, Food and Drugs administration, Ghana Standards Authority, GPHA etc are cooperating in this process. It is something that we are doing for Ghana, and it is refreshing to see the level of cooperation.
19. We would seek your cooperation in the implementation of the three key measures as follows:
• Achieve mandatory, less intrusive joint inspection at the ports,
• Achieve paperless processing of all relevant port documents, and
• Abolish all internal customs barriers on Ghana’s highways.
We resolve to do these effective September 1, 2017:
20. There is a big change happening at the ports, and we are aiming that it shouldn’t really take you more than 4 hours to clear your container at the port. So we are definitely setting high ambitions, but it is based on the work we are doing and going to do.
21. You have seen some major reforms in the business environment, from registering the business to getting the necessary permits. Reforms are coming to put in place a national Digital Address System before the end of this year. We want to begin the national ID project before the end of this year and definitely finish it next year. We want to make sure there is Mobile Interoperability by November this year. So the reforms are major, and this is what is going to transform this economy and give impetus to the trade of this country, because the trade is based on an infrastructure of policies and systems that would make us more competitive.
22. I am very excited by the vision and programme that Nana Akufo-Addo has laid out for this country, and I see that if we work together Ghana is going to go places.
23. We are not intimidated. We are ambitious in the reform agenda, but we know Ghanaians have the capability to implement these reforms.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
24. I would like to commend the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Information in the preparation and running of this event. Special commendation goes to the members of the planning committee for this splendid organisation.
25. I wish to thank you all for your participation. It is my singular honour to officially close the 2017 National Policy Summit on Trade and Industry.
26. May God bless us all. And may God bless our Homeland, Ghana.