EU - Private Sector dialogue Meeting


EU - Private Sector dialogue Meeting

Last Wednesday this meeting was held at La Villa Boutique Hotel with as Chair the Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana,  H.E. Diana ACCONCIA.  The purpose of the  dialogue was the identification of  areas where the EU  could intervene to assist  the private sector of Ghana in the period 2021-2028. Present next to an EU Delegation were the different EU Nation state business chambers such as the German, French, Spanish, Hungarian and off course the GNBCC. Furthermore representatives of the Ghana such as Association of Ghana Industries –AGI as well as the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI). Also some big companies took part in the dialogue such as Coca Cola Bottling Company and DHL Global Forwarding.

Speaking to the participants the following question was posed: Ghana needs investment so how can the EU stimulate private investment; on this  GNBCC remarked that the EU can develop financial support through loans and (investment) insurances in cooperation with Banks and Insurance companies. Loans and insurances which do not cost an arm and a leg and with Institutions who support investments in Ghana. Also the EU should support the implementation of AfCFTA – the African Continental Free Trade Area because this would make trade between African countries much easier. The EU should oppose  Ghana initiatives which want the Free Trade Area only benefitting indigenous owned companies ( ; because  this populist tendency opposes Foreign Direct Investment and in this narrative a Ghanaian Company with Ghanaian staff employing many Ghanaians and relies on Ghanaian suppliers but is partly or wholly owned by a foreign non Ghanaian investor or shareholder  should not benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area .  This tendency opposes the core of AfCFTA and  is very damaging for the Ghana Economy; it will lead to disinvestment. 

The AGI would like to see the capacity of Ghanaian companies to be improved so they can better partner with EU companies. One of the private companies remarked that transparency is very important for foreign investors and also the logistics between African countries should be improved; it’s still cheaper to export to or via EU countries compared to the costs and official paperwork needed to do a direct export to a neighbouring West African country (the AfCFTA is still in its infancy and  the in 1975 set up ECOWAS is still no Customs Union);for example  it’s still very hard to export from Ghana to Nigeria .

Other remarks were that the combined tax burden in Ghana is quite high; if you add up all the taxes you have to pay as a company your tax burden can be 35% (low) to almost 55%, with that Ghana is among the highest in Africa with taxes. As such Ghana needs EU support to improve on its tax policies, a very large part of Ghana  society – the informal sector- still remains untaxed although it’s 75% of Ghana’s  economy.

Also the good initiatives of the last 4 years are not operating as intended: the ports are still not paperless, there is still a lot of smuggling, business rules and regulations are changed negatively without prior notice or consultation and problems continue with regulations and standardization . AGI remarked that there is still a lot of under invoicing & under declaration next to the smuggling which is unfair competition to the local companies. The same applies for the VAT exemptions which are granted to some importers which makes the local companies, who do pay VAT ,uncompetitive.

Important issues for Ghana to which the EU can be supportive, which also came forward as the result of a business survey among companies,  are: establishment of a one stop shop for companies and investors – now still too many agencies are involved asking the same or almost the same paperwork; easy and transparent access to agencies and user friendly digital services.

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