Ghana, The Netherlands begin talks on bilateral treaty
Ghana and The Netherlands have begun exploratory talks on the renegotiation of the 32-year-old Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) between the two countries.
The BIT was signed in 1989 and operationalised in 1991 and the renegotiation is to review it to conform to current global economic dynamics.
Speaking at the opening of the exploratory talks in Accra yesterday, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, said the proposed new areas of the BIT would include knowledge sharing and supporting the professionalisation of the horticultural industry, the processing of cocoa locally and the promotion of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.
“These are areas that hold significant to the country’s economic growth.
It is a long-standing commitment by the government to maintain the confidence that investors have in the country by exploring opportunities to ensure a conducive and transparent investment climate, while creating an attractive environment for businesses to thrive,” he said.
Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said since the treaty was signed to protect Dutch trade interest locally, bilateral relations between both countries had been characterised by close ties of friendship and cooperation and had bolstered several activities at various levels, including political, social and economic.
“Trade plays an important role in bilateral relations and we have been trading in many products for centuries.
Although the commodities traded in have been varied over time, it has involved the exchange of Ghanaian gold, ivory, cocoa beans, cocoa paste and cocoa butter and spices, some of which remain important export products to this day, for Dutch textiles, firearms, gunpowder, metal ware and alcoholic beverages.
“Schnapps, for example, plays an important role in the Ghanaian traditional and cultural rites.
The Netherlands, therefore, remains key to the country’s economic growth.
“I am happy to note that Dutch companies have invested in many sectors of the economy, including agriculture, building and construction, manufacturing, services, tourism, among others, totalling in value to about $994.20 million,” he said.
Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said the renegotiation further buttressed the government’s commitment to seek better and effective ways to boost cooperation between the two countries for their mutual benefit and ensure that investments in the respective countries were secure and safe.
The Vice-Minister for Foreign Economic Relations of The Netherlands, Hanneke Schuiling, indicated that the over three decade’s treaty needed to be revised for mutual benefits.
She said Ghana and The Netherlands had a long-standing relationship that dated back to the early days of Dutch trade in West Africa.
“Today, The Netherlands is one of Ghana's most important trading partners, with a strong focus on agriculture and sustainable development.
In 2020, the total trade between The Netherlands and Ghana was valued at €2.2 billion.
“Dutch companies have invested over €2 billion in Ghana, making The Netherlands one of the largest foreign investors in the country.
More than 150 Dutch companies are active in the country, which demonstrates the strong economic ties between our two nations and the potential for further growth and development in the years to come,” she said.
Ms Schuiling said in the area of agriculture, Ghana and The Netherlands had a strong partnership.
She said Dutch companies had been working with Ghanaian farmers on modernising farming techniques, improved seeds and irrigation systems and that had helped to increase agricultural productivity locally and boosted Ghana's exports of cocoa, fresh fruits, vegetables and other crops.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, a party to the renegotiations, said his outfit registered approximately 258 Dutch companies between 1996 and 2022, operating predominantly in agriculture, manufacturing, building and construction, extractives, among others.