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Business News Wed, 17 Jun 2015

Commodity exchange gets EU backing

The European Union (EU) has thrown its weight behind establishment of the Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCX) to create an orderly, transparent and efficient marketing system for key agricultural commodities to promote agricultural investment and enhance productivity.

“We want to support Ghana in setting up a commodity exchange to ensure efficient trading of agricultural products for small-scale growers in the country,” EU Ambassador William Hanna said.

The EU is one of the most important trading partners for Ghana. The trade volume between Ghana and the EU amounts to €6.5billion annually, and with its 500 million consumers, the EU is a leading destination of Ghana’s exports, taking almost half of exports.

Through the EU’s Trade Related and Quality Enabling Assistance (TRAQUE) programme, 15 warehouses – nationwide -- will be provided with equipment and certification to become part of the new Warehouse Receipt System of the future GCX.

The TRAQUE Programme is a €15 million EU-funded project to support the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) in private sector development, as well as review Ghana’s Quality Policy to enable the country to attain a National Quality Infrastructure that functions efficiently in line with international best practices.

The establishment of the GCX will encourage market access and fair returns for smallholder farmers; facilitate the formalisation of informal agricultural trading activities; and position it as a West African regional hub for commodity trading activities.

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The GCX will start with spot and futures trading of primarily agricultural commodities including maize, soybeans, paddy-rice, palm oil and groundnuts among others, and will introduce other key agricultural and non-agricultural commodities in what is envisaged as a future regional trading platform.

Speaking at the opening session of the fourth Steering Committee meeting of the EU TRAQUE Programme in Accra, the Ambassador added that the EU will support setting up a certification scheme and an inspection unit with the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).

He therefore called for involvement of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and close collaboration with the Ghana Grain Council and the GCX project office, to ensure that the support to the Warehouse Receipt System is in line with commodity exchange requirements and that the two systems are developed in tandem.

Mr. Hanna added that TRAQUE stands ready to continue supporting Ghana’s government in its efforts to improve phyto-sanitary inspection and quality controls for vegetable products exported to the EU.

“This will improve consumer protection and support exports through improving the quality of products. TRAQUE is part of our wider support to promote prosperity and sustainable development in Ghana,” he said.

He is pleased with the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, which started a set of workshops in different regions of the country to sensitise operators along the groundnut value chain on how to avoid aflatoxin contamination of their produce.

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Chaired by Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, the steering committee went on to review the assistance to 28 public laboratories with equipment by the TRAQUE Programme estimated at €6.1million. Mr. Spio-Garbrah explained that the interdependence of national economies across the world with regard to capital, technology, goods and services has become increasingly important.

“Economic growth, accompanied by rapid integration into world markets, and the diversification and upgrading of exports require us to develop our quality systems and standards as a country. It is in this light that the TRAQUE programme has supplied equipment to, as well as renovated, the laboratories of some quality institutions in the country,” he said.

He added that this intervention aims at positioning Ghana to fully engage in the trade of quality goods and services regionally and internationally.

The minister called on other African countries to add value to their local materials before exporting them, because trade in quality goods and services is accompanied by mutual recognition and acceptance of testing and inspection results by conformity assessment bodies.

Source: B&FT