Mr Allan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said Economic Diplomacy has become imperative for Africa in her bid to remove barriers to boost inter African trade.
He said for Ghana to benefit from the venture, the Ministry had, therefore, launched a comprehensive industrial transformation programme, anchored on a 10-point plan, aimed at enhancing the productive capacities of the private sector.
Speaking at the Second Stakeholders’ Conference on the theme; “Leveraging Economic Diplomacy for Ghana’s Industrialisation Agenda,” he mentioned value addition to the country’s natural resources and developing export markets for locally manufactured products, as some of the Industrial Transformation programmes the Ministry had undertaken.
The three-day conference is being organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to share information and best practices, identify challenges faced by key stakeholders in the Ghanaian economy as well as proffer some solutions.
Mr Kyerematen said other programmes include facilitating access to medium and long term capital for industrial development, implementing the One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative, and developing strategic anchor industrial initiatives as new growth poles for the Ghanaian economy.
Other initiatives are establishing industrial parks and special economic zones to improve access to land, utilities and business support services, and promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in different sectors with a focus on those with high growth potential.
The rest are establishing an industrial sub-contracting exchange that will directly link the SMEs to the supply chain of large scale enterprises through a structured process of sub-contracting arrangements; promoting value added exports targeting the USA market under the Continental Free Trade Area, the ECOWAS market, and other market destinations under existing bilateral trading agreements, among other things.
Mr Kyerematen said the Ministry, over the past 20 months of implementing those comprehensive plans, had made some significant gains, including 79 1D1F projects across the country receiving both financial and technical assistance, with another set of 35 projects going through further critical credit appraisal.
He said under the Stimulus Programme for local industries, the Ministry had provided technical assistance in the form of financial and operational management support to 85 companies across the country and facilitated access to about GH¢227 million to 14 firms in the oil palm, pharmaceutical, agro-processing, cosmetics and poultry industries under favourable credit terms.
Madam Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said the Conference would also focus on the strategies for the promotion of Made-in-Ghana goods, the 10-point Strategy on Industrialisation in addition to strategising on how Ghana could position itself to benefit from the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
She said in line with its mandate, the Ministry continued to promote and protect the interest of Ghana in its bilateral and multilateral relations with the wider international community.
The Ministry also continued to leverage the tools of economic diplomacy through its Missions abroad to actively promote Ghanaian goods and services as well as attract prospective investor for the much-needed foreign direct investments, in pursuance of Government’s agenda for Structural Transformation of the economy, she said.
Madam Botchwey said since the first Conference, the Ministry, in an effort to re-position itself to effectively achieve the country’s Foreign Policy objective, had re-established the Economic, Trade and Investment Bureau to play a central role in coordinating economic activities in collaboration with key stakeholders.
She, therefore, expressed the hope that at the end of the Conference, the Ministry would amass crucial information that could assist it to support national efforts at diversifying and increasing Ghana’s export base, attracting foreign investments and promoting tourism and hospitality, among other things.
Dr Joseph Atta-Mensah, the Principal Policy Adviser, Capacity Development Division, UN Economic Commission for Africa, said the aim of the Conference was also to use trade as a mechanism to improve Africa’s economy from lower income to higher income and improve the living standards of the citizenry.