4 Industries Petition Gov’t Over Unfair Trade

FOUR LOCAL industries have petitioned Government through the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) over alleged unfair trade practices from their foreign counterparts.

The industries are cement, biscuit, aluminum and steel.

Aluworks, the Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana (CEMAG), the Association of Biscuit Manufacturers and the Steel Manufacturers Association of Ghana (SMAG), presented their petitions to GITC on Wednesday, May 8, in Accra.

They called on the state to take urgent steps to secure their businesses from collapsing as a result of unfair trade practices.

Dumping, price undercutting, trade in cheap products, among others, were among the complaints made by the industries.

The Commission is expected to conduct impartial and fair investigations into the merits of the petitions and make recommendations in addressing the issues raised within a period of at least nine months.

Foreign firms particularly Dangote Cement Ghana Limited, have argued over the years that after enjoying trade monopoly prior to 1990, local businesses in the country have failed to reposition themselves to be competitive in the current liberal business environment.

Liberal trade regime in Ghana began in the early 1990s under the former President Jerry John Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress administration with the introduction of the Economic Recovery Programme.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanteng, said the liberal trade regime has been both a blessing and a ‘curse.’

According to him, it has led to the influx of cheap foreign goods unto the domestic market and threatening the growth of domestic businesses.

Managing Director of Aluworks Limited, Kwasi Okoh, complained about the dumping of aluminum products on the domestic market.

According to him, aluminum from China came at very low price thereby destabilizing the local market.

He said “we are dying. After 10 years after being depressed all the time, we are at a point where we are a step away from collapsing.”

He indicated that low price of aluminum products from China was due to export rebate in China benchmarking of duties.

He urged GITC to ensure the application of the World Trade Organization’s fair trade rule in addressing the challenges facing local industries.

The Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana also complained about the influx of cheap cement products into the country.

The Association indicated that it has the production capacity of 11.6 million tonnes per annum which was sufficient for the domestic market.

The Association is made up of six companies including Ghacem and Diamond Cement.

Executive Secretary of the Cement and Steel Manufacturers Association, Dr. George Dawson Ahmoah, says “there should be the need for safeguard measures to protect the local cement industry.”

The Association of Biscuit Manufacturers raised concerns over what it described as “unrealistic low prices” of biscuits imported into Ghana from India, China and Sri Lanka.

Executive Secretary of the GITC, Frank Agyekum, assured the industries that the petitions would be studied and afterwards the petitioners would be engaged.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, urged the Commission to address the matter in a manner that will not be “too political.”

BY Melvin Tarlue