A delegation from the Republic of Ghana came to Millersville University Thursday to explore trade agreements and partnerships with local companies.
“We are here to showcase what we have to offer,” said Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, chief executive officer for the Ghana Export Promotion Authority. “We are showcasing investment opportunities in Ghana and are looking for partnerships with U.S. companies.”
The delegation came to Millersville after Dr. Daniel Wubah, university president, heard the delegation was attending an expo tomorrow in Philadelphia.
“They connected me with Florence (Torson-Hart, president of the U.S. Ghana Chamber of Commerce),” the Ghana native said. “I told her we’d love to host the delegation before the expo so we could link them up with local companies.”
In a room with about 50 business owners, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce representatives, students and the Ghana delegation, a panel discussed what is available to domestic companies in Ghana and what opportunities exist here for Ghana small business owners.
Asare, Dr. Alain Mortha, manager, Business Attraction and Retention, Office of International Business Development, state Department of Community and Economic Development; and Torson-Hart addressed the gathering. Heather Valudes, president of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce moderated the discussion.
Ghana, Asabea Asare, said, has built an infrastructure of industrial parks in preparation for companies to move into the country.
Ghana is the biggest importer of cocoa beans into the Philadelphia port, she said. The country exports the beans because they have no milk and, therefore, can’t make chocolate on a scale large enough to export.
“We have a lot of small businesses that make chocolate, and they need milk,” she said. To that end, the delegation is hoping to partner with Pennsylvania dairy farmers.
They are also looking to work with pharmaceutical companies because the country grows a lot of cassava, a root vegetable that is made into industrial starch used in pharmaceutical products.
Through the Africa Growth Opportunity Act established in 2000 by the U.S. government, there are no tariffs on many goods shipped from African countries. “This makes it good for American organizations to partner with Ghana. Industries can move in and make products to ship back,” Asabea Asare said, adding the labor is cheaper there.
Ghana has a lot of minerals as well as agricultural products that she said makes the country a good place to manufacture goods. “We are prepared to receive investors,” she said.
The country has also created industrial pacts which allow companies to export 70% of what they make. “The pacts and the industrial parks are already established,” she said.
During the panel discussion, a Ghana businessman asked Mortha about how to establish a small business here. Mortha said Pennsylvania works with interested parties free of charge to provide information necessary to establish a business.
Torres-Hart said the Ghana Chamber is prepared to set up one on one meetings with U.S. companies during the expo tomorrow and anytime there is interest. “Our main goal is to coordinate trade between the U.S. and Ghana,” she said. “We are looking at clean energy, health care, agribusiness and general trade and investment.”