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Opinions of Saturday, 17 October 2020

Columnist: Chris Koney

Ghana-U.S trade relations: Role of the American Chamber of Commerce Ghana

Over the years, the Republic of Ghana and the United States of America have enjoyed a strong economic partnership.

In 2017, the bilateral trade between Ghana and the United States of America was estimated at $1.6 billion.

With the Government of Ghana’s bold agenda to create an enabling environment for business to thrive as part of the Ghana Beyond Aid program, key stakeholders within the international trade space have predicted a potential increase in the trade volume between Ghana and the United States.

To get a deeper insight into the current cooperation and trade programs between the two countries and future prospects, I touched base with Ayesha Bedwei, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ghana (AMCHAM).

Ayesha Bedwei is a Tax Partner at PwC Ghana with over twenty years’ experience in the finance, tax and accounting fields. She is also PwC Africa’s Diversity & Inclusion Leader and has been involved in a wide array of projects, building a network of influential clients and associates.

AMCHAM is a voluntary association of professional and business people, working to create an environment where business can thrive between Ghanaian and American communities. AMCHAM exists to promote commercial, economic, educational and cultural ties between the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana.

Clarifying the misconception about membership of the chamber, Ms. Bedwei said “the assumption that AMCHAM is for big organizations is not the case. The AMCHAM being the representative arm of U.S companies in Ghana will naturally draw U.S corporations. The Chamber however has some mid-sized indigenous Ghanaian companies as members, who are typically involved in sourcing products or services from the U.S”.

AMCHAM is affiliated to the US Chamber of Commerce and open to any U.S company, subsidiary, franchisee or U.S citizen controlled entity in Ghana and any Ghanaian company seeking or doing business in the United States of America.

Being a member of AMCHAM certainly comes with several benefits which the president highlighted. “The opportunities open to members are varied and include meeting other businesses of different sizes and industries, forming business relationships, being part of trade missions and having access to key American/Ghanaian relationships and information for the purpose of accessing both markets. The Chamber also provides the right platform to discuss issues that affect investment in the country”, she added.

Currently, Ghana is eighty-seventh largest goods trading partner of the United States with about USD1.4 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2018.

Ms. Bedwei indicated that “goods imported from the U.S totalled USD793million and goods exported to the U.S totalled USD582million. Available data from the USTR proves that the U.S goods trade surplus with Ghana was USD211million in 2018.”

According to the Department of Commerce, U.S exports of goods to Ghana supported an estimated five thousand jobs in 2015. U.S foreign direct investment in Ghana – stock was USD1.7billion in 2017, a 14.13% decrease from 2016. Ghana’s foreign direct investment in the United States –stock was USD52million in 2017.

The global coronavirus pandemic has hugely impacted on the trade between the two countries according to the AMCHAM President due to border closures and reduced physical travel resulting in slow delivery times. Also, the restriction on the movement of people has also significantly reduced the trade volume.

Ghanaian businesses over the years have encountered challenges getting their products onto the US market.

She indicated that the challenge has more to do with capacity and adherence to standards by Ghanaian businesses.

In the area of cultural and educational ties, AMCHAM remains the champion and promoter of the American Thanksgiving Dinner culture. For education, the chamber promotes ties between the two countries by hosting faculty and students from the U.S colleges and universities during the summer break in Ghana to understand the business environment.

Commenting on the future of the AMCHAM and the commercial relationship between Ghana and the United States, Ms. Bedwei said: “for thirty-one years, AMCHAM has promoted trade and investment between our two countries and we look forward to the next thirty years and more of doing the same and creating prosperity for our citizens.”

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