Govt to reverse wrong perception about Ghana's market
President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday said government was determined to reverse the perception in French business circles that Ghana was a small and probably difficult Anglophone market with low purchasing power.
He said the current trade statistics of the two countries gave Ghana a marginal credit but the figures were extremely modest by standards of the West African Sub-region.
He, therefore, invited French commercial interests to invest in the country, which was now ready and poised to substantially increase trade and investment exchanges particularly with France in the private sector.
"This government would continue to urge the French business community to increase its trade activities in Ghana", President Kufuor added.
He was speaking at a gala night organised by the Ghana France Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (GFCCIA) at the Banquet Hall in Accra.
It was organised to broaden the scope of GFCCIA activities by extending its search for potential business partners for its members.
President Kufuor said France should be an obvious strategic trade and investment partner of Ghana because it was being surrounded by Fracophone neighbours.
He noted that because of the Ghana's colonial past, major French commercial establishments had little interest in the country as a trade and investment destination and undoubtedly the language barrier had also been a critical factor.
President Kufuor said the French government had now included Ghana in its Solidarity and Priority Zone (ZSP) that implied increased bilateral support for Ghana.
He said the investment of Societie Generale of France as a majority shareholder in SSS Bank would undoubtedly send positive signals to the French business community as a whole.
President Kufuor said the activities of the Chamber should therefore, complement government's efforts at creating investment opportunities in the two key sectors; industry and agriculture for both French and Ghanaian commercial interests.
President Kufuor commended the Chamber for its programme to establish a French language training programme for its members, the publication of business and financial directives for members and the opening of a documentation centre in Accra for the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
He said the initiative could create more private sector investment opportunities not only between France and Ghana but also with neighbouring countries in the West African Sub-Region.
Mr Jean-Michel Berrit, French Ambassador in Ghana, said France assistance to Ghana had always been in the sectors of economics, cultural and development aid, which had deepened under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
He said on bilateral co-operation, France had endeavoured for the past two years to diversify her support to the country.
Mr Berrit said France as a result had began projects in new fields of partnership in agriculture, research and the mass media.
He said the stocks of France investments in Ghana's economy amounted to about 80 million Euros and this was being increased due to the establishment in Ghana of the Societe Generale as a majority shareholder in the SSB bank.
He said La Compagnie Fruitiere, the World's largest exporter of fresh fruits had decided to produce fruits in Ghana for export.
Mr Berrit said Ghana, was the 106th client of France and imports of French products were mainly in the sectors of equipment and agro-products.
Ghana's exports to France amounted globally to 138 million Euros, last year with a trade balance favourable to Ghana.
He said Ghana was the 81st products supplier to France, and exports of Ghanaian products to France were mainly in the sectors of agricultural products and timber.
Mr Berrit pledged that France would co-operate with the government in its determination to promote the teaching of French in Training Colleges and schools in Ghana.
He said the Chamber had an important role to play in the development of economic and commercial relations between France and Ghana, as well as an instrument for regional economic integration.
The French Ambassador said the implementation of a successful regional co-operation through business depended on the ability to establish links and networks between African companies by overcoming language and cultural barriers.
He said the Chamber in the Sub-Region had a main role to play in such a project.
Mr Berrit said France would host this year's G8 Summit meeting in Evian, France and would use the occasion to make Africa a priority on the agenda of the meeting and submit several proposals in favour of Africa about international trade and agricultural development.
"If adopted those proposals will make Ghana trade and agriculture easier and reduce inequalities", He added.
Miss Joyce Darko, President of the Chamber, said the seminar organised on Friday, March 28 and the Gala night, were to provide a forum for businessmen from various countries in the Sub-Region to interact and contribute to the economic development of the Sub-Region.
She said it was necessary for countries within the Sub-Region to diversify and expand their interests to other countries.
Both events were attended by participants from Togo, Cote D'Ivoire and Nigeria.
The Chamber was formed in 1999 when members of the Club Lutece decided to transform it into a Chamber of Commerce in order to better achieve their objectives.
The Club Lutece was made up of a group of Ghanaian and French businessmen who came together to promote business relations between their countries.
The main objective of the Chamber is to promote commercial relations between Ghana and France and in order to achieve this goal, the Chamber sought to organise activities that provide each country with an opportunity to better the other and what it has to offer.
Ghanaian musician Amandzeba Nat Brew, the Pan-African Orchestra and the Malian musician Salif Keita, entertained the audience and there was also a fashion show by Woodin Enterprise.