The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has said it is making deliberate efforts to prop up the export-trade half of its activities, in keeping with governmentâ€™s aim of building an export-led economy.
â€œLooking at the recent increases in port charges, we didnâ€™t even touch exports at all in some cases, so that we encourage the sector,â€ Director-General of the ports regulator, Paul Asare Ansah, told a gathering of stakeholders in the exports value chain in Tema.
Ongoing reforms, vis-Ã -vis infrastructural expansion projects and the modernisation of facilities at the Tema and Takoradi seaports, are all geared toward enhancing the countryâ€™s export trade, he said.
â€œWe must be determined to change the direction of trade in our country; no two ways about that. And that change will be occasioned or effected by those of us gathered here who have a direct interest in growing the export sector,â€ he told stakeholders at a meeting he convened to solicit views on how the exports sector can be enhanced.
Sector institutions present at the meeting included the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), Ghana Shippersâ€™ Authority (GSA), and Ghana Exim Bank.
â€œThe GPHA is willing to provide accommodation to bring Exim Bank closer to the port community and collaborate to ensure intermodal linkage to and from the ports as well as build strategic partnerships with relevant stakeholders to grow Ghanaâ€™s exports.â€
The GPHA, he added, is also ready to offer every assistance to the Ghana Free Zones Board â€“ companies under which are supposed to export not less than 70 percent of what they produce, to make the country an attractive exports-processing destination.
â€œWe are ready to partner with the various stakeholders in the exports sector â€“ just as everybody is here to partner with each other, with a common goal to achieve,â€ he said.
The country has always imported more than it exports, resulting in huge trade deficit. In 2017, for example, total imports through the sea ports of Ghana were 14,291,009 tonnes of cargo compared to exports of 6,463,077 tonnes.
â€œThis meeting is a move to brainstorm on how Ghana can balance its trade deficit between export and import trade through integrated ideas to enable the development of a cohesive strategic implementation plan,â€ Mr. Asare Ansah noted.
The Head of Communications-Exim Bank, Emmanuel Essilfie-Conduah, in his submission called for collaboration between agencies in the export sector to promote export business in Ghana.
He pledged the commitment of his outfit to support exporters who need financial support to promote their trade.
â€œOur role as EXIM Bank is to facilitate Ghanaâ€™s international trade, and we have the funds. What we want to do is be able to identify the most important crops or products which have international advantage,â€ he stated.
The Deputy Director at Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Evelyn Nyarko, also called on regulatory agencies to train their staff on new export regulations so as to facilitate the export trade.
â€œLet us educate officers at the ports; there have been instances when policies were running at the ports but it appeared that officers of those agencies had not heard of them before.â€