The United States is investing $10 million in Ghana to help the country meet international standards and guidelines for its agricultural produce.
The project is aimed at strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary compliance with agricultural produce in Ghana.
The initiative is part of the Trade Africa Initiative which, among other things, is designed to build partnerships between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to increase internal and regional trade within Africa.
It comes at a time Ghana’s vegetable exports to the European market have been banned because they do not meet the required international standards.
The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson, made this known at a breakfast meeting organised by the Airport Residential Area branch of the Action Chapel last Saturday.
The meeting is held once every two months to interact with the various diplomatic missions in Ghana and the business opportunities in their respective countries which Ghanaians could take advantage of.
It also offers the platform for Christian business leaders and entrepreneurs to interact with government officials on the most favourable economic policies to further strengthen their businesses.
In September 2015, the EU threatened to sanction Ghana over some worm-infested vegetables to European markets which did not meet their standards. The ban is, however, expected to be lifted in December this year.
Prior to this, the country had been banned for three months in 2014 after the EU intercepted some vegetables containing harmful organisms.
The three-month ban was to be lifted at the end of September 2014 when remedial measures were implemented.
In a speech, which focused on a number of US investments in Ghana, Ghana’s 2016 elections, corruption and bilateral trade between Ghana and the United States, Ambassador Jackson urged Ghanaian companies to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
The American government signed AGOA into law in May 2000, and since then it has become one of the pillars of trade between Africa and the US. It gives preferential market access for over 6,000 products from 39 sub-Saharan African nations with liberal access to the US market.
The US renewed the 15-year-old law that allows made-in-Africa goods to enter the American market duty-free. It was renewed in June last year for another 10 years.
The new agreement has, however, been amended to allow the US to withdraw, suspend or limit benefits if designated AGOA countries do not comply with its eligibility criteria.
Although AGOA has helped to increase trade between Ghana and the US the country still failed to make maximum use of the agreement, according to Ministry of Trade observations.
To rally Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of AGOA, Ambassador Jackson said “the extension provides certainty for Ghanaian producers and US buyers regarding access to the US market. It creates a stable environment that encourages increased investments in Ghana”.
With growing agitation among workers of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) over the ongoing process to hand over ECG to concessionaire led by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), he said, “let me be perfectly clear. This is not a privatisation of the ECG. The company will continue to be a public-utility owned by the people of Ghana and operated for the people of Ghana.”