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Reduced tariffs threatening agri-business – local producers

Local producers are saying, the reduced tariff values for some imported products in the agriculture value chain, especially those that are already being produced locally, is impacting negatively on businesses.

They said the 50 per cent reduction in the benchmark value covers about 19 per cent of products produced domestically and the current lower tariffs on the imported products is making them cheaper than those produced in the country.

Speaking at an AGI Agribusiness Sector seminar in Accra, Ms Fatima Ali Mohammed, Agriculture Sector Chair-Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), said the reduced benchmark values have brought the local manufacturing players into distress.

She said, imports from neighbouring markets are now cheaper than those produce in factories in-country, and even imports from across the sea are much cheaper than what is being produced domestically.

“These reduced benchmark values have brought the local manufacturing players into distress across the board. We have members reviewing and considering laying-off staff, and they have put future investments on hold. Our secretariat is inundated with membership letters of concern,” said Fatima Ali Mohammed, Agriculture Sector Chair-Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).

“Free trade should mean fair trade, and this is unfortunately not the case today in Ghana post the recent introduction of 50% Reduced Benchmark Values,” she added.

For instance, she said, Ghana Oil Palm Development Company and Wilmar – both in the oil palm sector are both distressed and considering laying-off workers as a result.

Besides, products such as tomatoes, rice, poultry, among others, are suffering because of the revision.

Ms Mohammed said Ghanaian producers needed to be properly positioned to protect the interests of the country first and create the best mutually beneficial outcomes with others.

The AGI Agri-business Sector seminar aims to coordinate relevant stakeholders along the value chain, particularly along government’s programme of ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development.

The seminar dubbed: ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development’, brought together private sector players to deliberate on how they can effectively participate in the programme.

Mr Collins Ntim, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, said government’s plan is to use agriculture to revamp the economy and spur rural development.

In this direction, government is coming out with programmes and policies to ensure the active participation of the private sector and encourage the members of the AGI to take advantage of the opportunities being offered under the various flagship programmes.

Mr George Oduro, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Charge of Perennial Crops, said government through various interventions in agriculture sector is seeking to provide raw materials for industry and to cut down on imports of rice and poultry products as well as boost exports.

Source: GNA

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