Ghana and Turkey are working on new ways to expand bilateral trade with each other by encouraging vastly increased private investment from both sides.
While efforts towards this over the past few years have fallen short of target, the governments of both countries are intent on creating new business opportunities for their respective private sectors to exploit.
Indeed, both countries are thinking strategically; Turkey is seeking to establish a business bridgehead in Ghana through which to expand its economic relations with sub Saharan Africa in an imitation of China’s hugely successful strategy, and one which is made all the more important by Turkey’s somewhat strained economic relations with Europe.
Ghana on its part is looking to be a major recipient of foreign investment similar to that now being received from a rapidly growing Chinese economy. Instructively, Ghana is Turkey’s third largest trade partner in sub Saharan Africa currently.
In 2014, Ghana and Turkey targeted US$1 billion in trade volumes, hoping to achieve this by 2015. However, in 2015, bilateral trade volume between the two countries actually fell to US$399.5; in 2016, the figure was estimated to be US$478.
The targeted amount represents more than 60 percent increase over the current two-way bilateral trade volumes between the two countries which stood at US$353 million in 2017.
The efforts to increase trade and investment volumes are expected to create more business opportunities in both countries, most especially for start-ups.
Ghana’s trade exports to Turkey are estimated to be around $200 million. The figures depict a trade deficit on the part of Ghana which both countries agree needs to be reduced by increased Ghanaian exports to Turkey. They also agree that increased direct foreign investment inflows from Turkey into Ghana are needed to improve the latter’s position against the former with regards to its capital and financial account position.
Turkey has been investing in construction, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, education, and tourism sectors of Ghana’s economy which has strengthened bilateral corporations between the two countries.
There are several new private sector initiatives to increase trade and investment relations. For instance, an Accra based business promotion company is collaborating with the Turkish Embassy to take a group of Ghanaian entrepreneurs to Istanbul to negotiate and secure franchise agreements with Turkish businesses that would enable them establish businesses here under established Turkish brand names.
Speaking during Turkey’s 95th independence celebrations in Accra, Ambassador Nesrin Bayazit did not give any time lines for the set US$1 billion target, but she anticipates that with over 150 Turkish companies and investments in Ghana, coupled with diplomatic relations existing between the two countries, the stipulated target will be achieved soon.
Ambassador Bayazit stressed her country will continue its support towards Ghana’s economy, notably government’s flagship programmes aimed at improving the lives of the people and economy.
“The Turkish government is supporting Ghana government’s flagship projects, particularly one district one factory, planting for food and jobs, one village one dam. Our investors have been coming to Ghana to see the possibilities” she noted, adding, Turkey’s commitment to supporting Ghana’s goal of achieving “Ghana beyond aid” is on course.
The Information Minister Designate, Hon. Oppong Nkrumah underscored the significant economic gains trade relations between Ghana and Turkey have brought to the two countries. He urged the Turkish business community to continuously make investments that have positive impacts on the Ghanaian economy.
To achieve the set target of US$1 billion in trade relations which seeks to benefit both countries, Executive Director for the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Mr. Emmanuel Akwetey has cautioned Ghana to take immediate steps to maximize its interests, aimed at benefitting its people at large.
He added that it was important Ghana coordinates and aligns its foreign, investments and development policies in a manner that supports the transformation agenda.
“We should maximize this interest to transform the economy and create jobs for the youth. Turkey has strategic interest in Ghana. We have to be more focused on how this relationship will accelerate the transformation of our economy to be a win-win situation and we should position ourselves so that the winning impact will be on our side”.
“We are very attractive to them. We have democratic stability and security. They would always come to invest because we are rich in resources” he said.
Establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries started in 1958 following the establishment of embassies in Ankara and Accra. The two have signed 24 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in various fields.
By Dundas Whigham