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US strives to become largest agric exporter to Ghana, West Africa

Mr Censky [R] addressing journalists in Accra on October 30, 2019 at the end of the trade mission to West Africa. Looking on is the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie Sanders Sullivan.  Photo by Geoffrey Buta
The United States is pushing to become the largest exporter of agriculture and related products to Ghana and the entire West African sub region which has become heavily dependent on foreign imports.

The US, which is Ghana’s sixth-largest import supplier, holds 4.9 per cent market share of Ghanaian agricultural imports, something the US is seeking to increase to beat competition from the European Union, China, Brazil, and Southeast Asia.

US agriculture export to Ghana in 2018 amounted to 101 million dollars, the third biggest since 2014 when the figure stood at 150.7 million dollars.

“About Two thirds is going from Ghana to the United States and 101 million [dollars] is US export to Ghana,” US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky told journalists in Accra at the end of a West Africa Trade Mission in Ghana.

“We would like to have a larger share of whatever imports Ghana, as well as, West Africa imports,” he added.

The three-day trade mission was aimed at fostering new opportunities in the West African sub region where strong economic growth is driving demand for American exports of food and farm products.

His mission led over 40 companies from the US which held over 487 meetings with players in agriculture sector and policymakers including government officials in the sub region.

Agriculture trade between the US and Ghana in 2018, Mr Censky said, was around 300 million dollars

“Most of that were Ghanaian exports moving over to the United States,” he said.

West Africa’s import per year stands about 10 billion dollars and the US’ share of that is around 500 million cedis.

For the agriculture officials, they would have to work more to get a larger share of the amount.

On the back of that, Mr Censky stated the US will work towards providing the import needs of Ghana and the entire West African bloc, saying “so we are interested to meet[ing] those import needs; whatever they are”.

“We are also interested in making sure that for those food needs that we can try and supply from the United States,” he added.

Though some critics say imports could affect local industries and throw the economy out of gear, Mr Censky said held otherwise.

“US import a lot of food ourselves…” he said, “one can still import food and still be successful”.

A US Department of Agriculture report said “global snack food imports by Ghana are expected to increase as Ghanaian households desire more readily-accessible food products” due to increasing middle class population.

For him the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, the demand “is a sign of increasing incomes”, adding “as people have rising incomes, they want easier access to already made foods that are prepared or easy to prepare and that is a good sign”.

Ghanaian businesses in the manufacturing sector could also take advantage of the increasing demand to cash in, he said.

“I think what you will also see, is Ghanaian businesses that are responding to that increasing need”.

“You have imports that can serve part of that need but you also have domestic productions; Ghanaian companies that are interested in manufacturing food products, could meet that needs as well and I think it’s a good problem to have”.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah||Ghana

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