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AGI supports import restrictions, calls for development in value chain


  8 Décembre      3        Economy (14884),

   

Accra, Dec. 08, GNA – The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) says it supports Government’s proposal to restrict the importation of some selected products.

Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, Chief Executive of AGI, explained that the local industries were not booming because they faced so much competition, which was unfair in some cases.

He said the local market constantly got flooded with very cheap imported products, with some even having low quality, yet they all competed with the local products, thereby stifling the growth of local industries and leading to loss of jobs in the country.

« So, if the government says, let’s restrict imports so that we can have reasonable local production to complement, I think it’s in the right direction.

« So, our position is clear–that we support the move, and we believe that, that’s a very good way to go, » he told the Ghana News Agency in an interview.

The proposed products include rice, poultry, animal and vegetable oil, margarine, fruit juices, soft drinks, mineral water, noodles and pasta, and ceramic tiles.

Mr Twum-Akwaboah maintained that the restrictions would create market opportunities for local producers thereby boosting the national economy as it would create more jobs, increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and reduce the trade deficit.

The Chief Executive emphasised, however, that the import restriction should not be seen as an end in itself.

He said: « There is a lot more that has to be done. It’s not just restricting imports, but helping industries to develop the value chain, such that we become competitive along the line. »

Developing the value chain in connection with the selected products, he said, would enable Ghana to produce more of the raw materials locally to supply the local industries.

He stressed that, without developing the value chain, the country would still be compelled to import raw materials all the time which would continue to place the country « at the mercy of import ».

Touching on whether the country had adequate capacity to meet local demand for the selected products, Mr Twum-Akwaboah indicated that there was excess capacity for some of the products.

He noted that for certain products, some local companies actually produced such high volumes that they had to export in order to stay in business, as the local market was too small for them.

He admitted, however, that there were other products that the country may not have immediate adequate capacity but insisted that the capacity could be built in no time.

Citing poultry as an example, he noted that some poultry farmers already had installed capacity, adding that, what they would need is to increase the number of birds.

« If it is poultry, it’s not just the poultry you are rearing. It is the feed, which is the most expensive. So, the government may decide to help with the production of the feed to make it cheaper for firms. Anybody who goes into the poultry business would be able to do good business.

« The number of poultry farms would go up. And many poultry processing plants would also spring up, » Mr Twum-Akwaboah noted.

He added: « So, the government should go ahead and pass the bill. Concerns being expressed by people should be taken into account. Where we need to make adjustments to accommodate those concerns, let’s do it.

« Let’s make sure that everybody gets on board. But as a nation, we should accept and move on with it. We should not backtrack because people are raising concerns. The concerns can be addressed. »

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