General News Thu, 30 Jun 2005

Impact of trade liberalization on agric unacceptable - Minister

Accra, June 30, GNA - Government is intensifying efforts to address the problems in the agriculture sector due to the impact of trade liberalization, Mr Kwadwo Affram Asiedu, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, said on Thursday.

"This is unacceptable. Government has, therefore, intensified its efforts at addressing the situation," he said.

The Deputy Minister said this at a day's workshop on the surge of imports organized by Action Aid International, Ghana, in Accra. The workshop was aimed at identifying the occurrence of import surges on the local market and industry and their effects on agriculture growth potential and food security.

It was also to analyse the phenomenon of import surges, including rapidly rising imports, in order to develop a critical mass of empirical evidence on the nature and scope of the problem and make substantial approaches, to inform the debate on trade remedy measures in the context of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement.

Import surges occur when the volume or value of imports increases in a period of time over its normal level to the extent that it is considered excessive according to some predetermined criteria.


Mr Asiedu said there was no doubt that agriculture held the nation's economy, contributing nearly 40 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 35 per cent to foreign exchange earnings and 60 per cent to employment. Over 80 per cent of the rural populace have their main livelihood activities centred on agriculture.

Unfortunately the sector was plagued with poverty, the Deputy Minister said, adding that the sector should aim at reducing poverty, equity development and how to make it vibrant in the face of challenges posed by globalisation and trade liberalization.

Mr Asiedu said the inability of governments in poor countries to compete with rich countries in providing subsidies had resulted in cheap subsidized products flooding the markets.

He noted that it was not surprising that food trade balance for the country had fallen from a favourable balance of over 642.38 million dollars in 1980 to a negative level of 52.2 million dollars. The woes of the Sector, Mr Asiedu said, could not be wished away and expressed the hope that the vibrant but suffocating Sector would be resuscitated.

Mrs Anna Antwi, Agriculture and Food Security Coordinator of Action Aid, said food import had affected many sectors of the economy and there was the need to show how much the country had been affected.


She said Action Aid was collaborating with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to carry out studies on the extent and impact of food surges in different countries with funding from UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The two organisations, she said, were doing the same study using different approaches. FAO would use the quantitative method while Action Aid would be looking at the qualitative methods in the areas of food security, livelihood and poverty levels mindful that food was a human right issue.

The first phase of the project would be used for advocacy to the Sixth Ministerial Meeting in December and select a commodity for in-depth study next year.

Source: GNA