The acting German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Bernhard Abels, has challenged businesses in the country to push more for the government to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) before the October 1, 2016 deadline.
According to him, the implications of the country not signing the EPA were not just on its export fortunes, but also impacted negatively on the business relationship among companies within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU).
“This is because if the main customer is no longer in business, then of course that is definitely going to affect the suppliers’ business,” Mr Abels said at a business forum organised by the Ghanaian German Economic Association (GGEA) in Accra.
The forum was held on the theme: ‘Doing Business with Germany’ and it brought participants from the private sector, policy makers and people from the government to deliberate on issues affecting businesses in the country.
The forum also gave participants an opportunity to know more about the various opportunities German organisations offered to the Ghanaian private sector to enhance their capacity.
The EPA is the framework being proposed by the EU to developing countries, such as Ghana, to address issues relating to unfair preferential trade agreements.
Far from redressing the challenges, civil society groups say the agreement worsens the plight of countries which sign onto it and extinguishes any control that the country may have over its productive capacity.
But the acting Ambassador said the country was likely to lose out on investments from the EU market should it fail to sign the EPA after the deadline elapses.
He also explained that players in the Non Traditional Exports (NTEs) sector would also feel the impact due to restricted access, although they have built their businesses on the back of access to the EU market.
Speaking at the forum, the President of the GGEA, Mr Stephen Antwi, urged businesses in the country to uphold their integrity in order to attract foreign partners.
That, he said, was the enabler for credible foreign partners to build a long-term relationship with Ghanaian businesses with the aim of enhancing their capacities to penetrate the international market.
“It is important for us as business people to partner with credible foreign business organisations, especially in Germany in order for us to realise our full potential,” Mr Antwi said.
Doing business with Germany
About Ghanaian businesses partnering German organisations, Mr Antwi indicated that the ‘Made in Germany’ tag was synonymous with product reliability and quality. A lot of Germans present economic success, which was based on engineering expertise and specialised technology.
“Some of you (participants) may know that Chinese factories utilise heavy machinery from Germany to manufacture their consumer goods,” he stressed.
He opined that reputable financial entities, including the DEG were ready to offer the needed financing to assist qualified companies who meet specific requirements.
According to him, the GGEA could introduce one to the right business partners and help in sourcing for quality products and services from Germany.
“Joining one of our multiple business delegations to Germany could secure a reliable and credible business partner and investor for your mutual benefits,” he identified.
He added: “we have a business-friendly German Embassy here in Accra, where once you meet the necessary requirements, you will be provided with a visa to meet your business partners.”