Ghana/Russia Chamber of Commerce launched
Ghana on Thursday rejuvenated its relations with Russia in the area of trade and investment when it launched the Ghana-Russia Chamber of Commerce to woo Russian investors.
Kwamena Bartels, Private Sector Development Minister, who performed the launch, said current statistics of business and trade ties between the two countries showed that trade was almost insignificant but expressed the hope that with the formation of the Chamber trade would improve.
The launch was at a day's seminar for a 24-member Russian Parliamentary and Business Delegation in the country to renew relations with Ghana and explore areas of trade and investment.
Providing statistics, the Minister noted that export from Ghana to Russia fell from $17.31m in 1998 to $7.24m in 2002 whilst imports from Russia to Ghana fluctuated between $14.81m in 1998 and $19.98m in 2001 but declined to $15.12m in 2002.
He said the pattern of trade was skewed in favour of Russia, adding, "either the Russia in the market is not known to Ghanaian exporters or Ghanaians are not making enough effort to penetrate the Russian market."
Bartels said the structures of the external commercial orientation of Ghana and Russia showed that it was feasible to do business to the mutual benefit of both countries.
He said the business relationship should not end only at trading and commercial activities, but should also involve investment in each other's country. He said cross-border investment was not only a mechanism that integrated markets but also linked production systems of countries.
Bartels urged the delegation to consider investing in gold refinery in the country, which used to be one of the main areas of interest during relations with the former Soviet Union.
He said government had put in place policies to make trading smooth and friendly and the investment climate congenial. Bartels urged the delegation to consider the formation of joint ventures with Ghanaian entrepreneurs, who know the local terrain better.
Artur Nikolayevuikh Chilingarov, Leader of the Russian Delegation, pledged his country's commitment to re-visiting all trade and business relations that the former Soviet Union had with Ghana.
He said they were also interested in cultural relations. Chilingarov said the delegation was interested in agriculture, fisheries, mining and the mineral processing.
Kwasi Abeasi, Chief Executive of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), who chaired the seminar, said currently the Centre was reviewing trade laws to make them more investor friendly.
He said the GIPC was also being converted into a one-stop office for both local and international investors.
He announced that at present only seven Russian businessmen had registered with the Centre and were doing business in Ghana with estimated annual earnings of about $5m.