23
Thu, Mar

Ministry, US to collaborate to build robust business environment

Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal interacting with Mr Robert Jackson. With them is Mr Kervin Sharp, the Director, Office of the US Ambassador. Picture: EBOW HANSON

The Ministry of Business Development (MBD) is to collaborate with the United States (US) to remove all trade barriers in order to build a robust business environment between the two countries.

The move will ensure that high aviation cost, high cost of hotels, as well as the erratic power supply in the country are tackled to pave way for US businesses to invest in Ghana’s economy.

The Minister of Business Development, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, made the remarks when he received the US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson, and a two-man delegation from the US Chamber of Commerce at separate meetings at the ministry yesterday.

The courtesy call also provided a platform for the parties to deliberate on how to foster partnerships to create a conducive business environment for the small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to thrive.

SMEs

Mr Awal said the ministry had the mandate to build a good business environment, promote the growth of SMEs, and create room for industrial sub-contracts.

He made a strong case for the US companies to invest in the SME sector of the economy, stressing that “we want to build a competitive business environment in Ghana that will be an anchor for SMEs to thrive, because that sector has a huge potential to create employment opportunities for many young people.”

He said the MBD was focused on linking businesses to the academia in a manner that would build the capacity of students to develop business plans that would enable them to make a smooth transition into industry.

While assuring that pragmatic steps and inter-ministerial collaborations would be taken to address the domestic challenges that stifled foreign businesses, Mr Awal said all businesses ought to operate within the legal and regulatory frameworks of the country.

Mr Awal said kickback and other corrupt tendencies that characterised the award of contracts would not be countenanced because such tendencies demotivated prospective investors.

Concerns

 For his part, Mr Jackson, said even though there had been a steady increase in the number of US companies in the country, unfavourable power supply, high cost of hotels, and the delay in visa acquisition did not motivate more companies to invest in the country.

“The cost of hotels in Ghana is relatively higher than other African countries, and this does not create a favourable atmosphere for foreign investors.

He, however,  gave the assurance that the US would strengthen its collaboration with Ghana to promote the export of local products to the US market and vice versa.

Mr Jackson observed that it was critical for the country to explore the private sector as a viable avenue for financing SMEs rather than relying on the public sector.

Collaboration

At a separate meeting with the minister, the President of the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-Africa Business Center, Mr Scott Eisner, said it was important to collaborate at the political level to provide the needed climate for business development.

He said there were business opportunities in the agriculture, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and manufacturing sectors that could be properly harnessed for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

“There are 121 US companies in this country, and we look forward to expanding, especially when there is a political leadership that is more oriented towards business development,” he added.