Experts call for more reform policies to strengthen economy’s trade competitiveness   


Key leaders from the Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council (GNBCC) and the European Chamber of Commerce have affirmed Ghana’s position as the leading destination for FDI and trade with the highest competitiveness score in West Africa. They however noted that Senegal and Ivory Coast are fast gaining ground, and Ghana has to redouble its efforts to remain competitive.

These points were made by Mr. Tjalling Wiarda, General Manager-Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council, and Mr. Nicholas Gebara, Executive Director-European Chamber of Commerce, during an expert panel webinar to mark European Union Day at the Institute of International Affairs, Ghana (

The webinar – organised by the International Economics and Trade Observatory (IETO) at – was moderated by the coordinating fellow of IETO, Mr. Fred Amissah. In setting the tone and establishing the premise for the discussion, Mr Amissah stated that the Institute’s position on trade is premised on the Ricardian concept of comparative advantage. Flowing from this, the Institute is of the view that international trade based on leveraging Ghana’s advantage is key to the country’s development.

The webinar has thus been organised as part of the celebrations to mark European Day, and in recognition of the long period of trade relations that has existed between Europe and Ghana/West Africa. He further noted that the webinar is an attempt to tap into the knowledge of European Chambers of Commerce on how Ghana is competing in attracting European businesses and investments compared to its peers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The panellists were emphatic that despite major challenges, Ghana remains an oasis of peace and security in ECOWAS and thus continues to be preferred. They all agreed that establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and siting the AfCFTA office in Accra presents a bullish opportunity for growth in the economy. Mr. Gebara said: “Any European company is looking for ease of access to large markets in Africa. So, if I can trade with Ghana and through that gain access to the 300 million ECOWAS market as well, it will definitely be attractive”.

Mr. Wiarda however noted that Ghana has to do more to become more attractive with the AfCFTA framework, otherwise companies will move their bases to other African countries. He noted for instance that more has to be done to bring life to the free zones concept, as the current feedback from prospective companies indicate that the cost of setting up are a bit higher compared to other markets.

He further noted that Senegal and Ivory-Coast are making great strides in attracting business, and indeed the port of Abidjan is becoming preferred for trade to the Sahelian region. He further stressed that the cost of doing business in Ghana is very high. This was on the basis that a foreigner requires US$200,000 as capital before setting-up a business in Ghana as compared to Nigeria, which is US$50,000.

Mr. Wiarda of GNBCC – responding to a question on Ghana’s transport infrastructure in the role of competitiveness – indicated that Kotoka is at present the most expensive airport for airlines to land in Africa, and the fifth most-expensive in the world. Therefore, more is needed to be done if Ghana wishes to put in place an airbridge for produce, as Kenya has achieved for Naivasha to Europe.

However, Mr. Nicholas Gebara-European Chamber of Commerce, highlighted that modification and implementation of the Companies Act – along with introduction of the Insolvency Law and Bankruptcy Law – is an indication of efforts to streamline the regulatory framework, which is essential for any business entity registered and operating in Ghana. He however noted that consultations can be deepened to ensure the business community is carried along.

Both Mr. Gebara and Mr. Wiarda are emphatic that European partners and participation delivers the quality that is key to growth of the Ghanaian economy. They noted that even though other countries seem to have lax regimes and are thus inching up in the volume of trade, it is becoming evident that their lack of standards on issues like human rights, quality standards and climate issues are in the long-term leading to unsustainable growth.

Mr. Wiarda said: “For example, because of the high EU standards necessary to export from a Ghanaian farm into the EU, produce here will be of high quality and excellent for local consumption. Also, because of this high standard, these farms can then export this produce at a premium into other high-value markets like the USA or Britain – ultimately delivering more revenue to the farmer”.

In response to a question on which countries can serve as a template for Ghana becoming more competitive, both panellists indicated that Ghana could take very useful lessons from countries like Vietnam, Rwanda, Suriname and Morocco on the needed reforms to boost competitiveness.

The graduate attache in charge of research at the Institute, Mr. Prince Asante, in closing the event noted that the insights gleaned were useful and will be added into the body of research to be put together as a policy recommendation brief to parliament. He also noted that a full recording of the webinar is available on the institute’s social media handles, and invited the public to upcoming seminars from the Institute.

For a replay of the event, visit

To learn more about the Ghana-Netherlands Business and Culture Council, please visit;

To learn more about the European Chamber of Commerce, please visit:

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