Alan Kyerematen (2nd right) with some officials at the event

The 13th World Trade Promotion Organizations Conference has opened in Accra with a high panelled forum which is focused on leveraging the economic potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for inclusive growth.

Speaking at the Conference in Accra, Secretary General of the Continental Free Trade Agreement Area, Wamkele Mene, announced that the secretariat is shifting its focus from large industries to SMEs to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth through a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Trade Corporation (ITC). 

It comes as Ghana and the rest of Africa risk losing an annual Gross Domestic Product (GDO) of $450 million if struggling SMES and social impact entrepreneurs are not cushioned from the economic impact of COVID-19, climate change and the war on Ukraine. 

“It is vital that under the current circumstances, the SMEs are supported to survive and adapt, as they can be a key component on the road to economic recovery on the continent. Indeed, TPOs will be vital in providing assistance to SMEs to ramp up their export capabilities. In addition, it is crucial that you support them to understand and participate in regional value chains, for our “Made in Africa” revolution to be successful,” he stated.

Battling the challenges of COVID-19, climate change and the conflict in Ukraine, Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC), Pamela Coke-Hamilton called for some reforms to be introduced by the ITC member states to aid the speedy recovery and resilience of SMEs.

Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen, charged players in trade promotion to employ aggressive and innovative reforms to position SMEs for resilience and recovery. 

“For TPOs to effectively play the role that is expected of them, a number of critical driving factors need to be addressed; First, governments around the world, particularly in developing countries, must now put trade at the center of their development agenda. Trade must be mainstreamed in national development plans. Programmes and projects that enhance trade must be aggressively pursued by TPOs.”

“Secondly, TPOs must identify specific areas where global trade disruptions have created opportunities for scaling up local production in their national economy, and build partnerships with private sector business associations to take advantage of such opportunities.” he stated. 

Joy Business engaged the Chief Executive of Ghana Export and Promotion Center, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare who said the $2.5 billion target by the National Exports Development Strategy in 2029 is aimed at addressing the threats facing SMEs worst hit by the external factors. 

“We are committed to supporting small businesses to build on their capacities and build the kind of resilience that will enable them to compete favorably on international markets. Indeed the success of Ghana’s National Export Development Strategy, launched in 2020 under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to achieve export earnings of $25.3 billion by 2029, is based on three significant pillars,” she remarked. 

The 13th World Trade Promotion Organisation Conference is to explore bold solutions for resilience and recovery of African economies. It saw the Continental Free Trade Secretariat and the International Trade Center sign a Memorandum of Understanding for an instrument to boost SME development and women participation in the single African market.