A meeting was held on 21st January, 2021 at La Villa Boutique Hotel with the Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana, H.E. Diana Acconcia. The purpose of the dialogue was the identification of areas where the EU could intervene to assist the private sector of Ghana in the period 2021-2028. Present at the meeting were the various European Chambers of Commerce namely the German, French, Italian, Dutch , Hungarian and SGCC. The representatives of Association of Ghana Industries –AGI , the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) as well as Coca Cola Bottling Company of Ghana and DHL Global Forwarding took part in the dialogue.
The AGI expressed that it would like to see the capacity of Ghanaian companies to be improved so they could better partner with EU companies. One of the private companies remarked that transparency is very important for foreign investors and also the logistics between African countries should be improved; it’s still cheaper to export to or via EU countries compared to the costs and official paperwork needed to do a direct export to a neighbouring West African country (the AfCFTA is still in its infancy and the in 1975 set up ECOWAS is still no Customs Union);for example it’s still very hard to export from Ghana to Nigeria .
Other remarks were that the combined tax burden in Ghana is quite high; if you add up all the taxes you have to pay as a company your tax burden can be 35% (low) to almost 55%, with that Ghana is among the highest in Africa with taxes. As such Ghana needs EU support to improve on its tax policies, a very large part of Ghana society – the informal sector- still remains untaxed although it’s 75% of Ghana’s economy.
Also the good initiatives of the last 4 years are not operating as intended: the ports are still not paperless, there is still a lot of smuggling, business rules and regulations are changed negatively without prior notice or consultation and problems continue with regulations and standardization . AGI remarked that there is still a lot of under invoicing & under declaration next to the smuggling which is unfair competition to the local companies. The same applies for the VAT exemptions which are granted to some importers which makes the local companies, who do pay VAT , uncompetitive.
Important issues for Ghana to which the EU can be supportive, which also came forward as the result of a business survey among companies, are: establishment of a one stop shop for companies and investors – now still too many agencies are involved asking the same or almost the same paperwork; easy and transparent access to agencies and user friendly digital services.