Deputy US Agriculture Minister calls for deepened business relations

Accra- Mr Stephen Censky, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, has ended his three-day trade mission to West Africa with a call on countries in the sub region to create a positive business climate that would promote a win-win situation for all.

He said the region has numerous business opportunities that needed a positive business environment to sustain.

Mr Censky, in the company of Mrs Stephanie Sullivan, the US Ambassador, briefing the media at a roundtable on Wednesday, described the mission as successful and full of opportunities.

The mission was aimed at helping exporters of United States to foster new opportunities in the sub region where strong economic growth is driving demand for American exports of food and farm products.

Mr Censky said his delegation participated in various meetings with companies in Ghana and other West Africa countries and that they explored various trade, agriculture and investment opportunities in the region.

He said agriculture trade activities between US and Ghana in 2019 totaled about 300 million dollars adding that the US would like to have a larger share of Ghana and West Africa imports.

Also, the overall food and agriculture imports throughout West Africa was around 10 billion dollars annually and the US share of that was just about 500 million dollars.

The US is interested in gaining a larger share than that and this trade mission was about establishing those connections so that folks could know each other and develop a mutually beneficial initiatives, Mr Censky said.

On her part, Madam Stephanie Sullivan said US remains the biggest bilateral trade partner to Ghana and that through the United States Department of Agriculture, numerous trade partnerships, capacity building programmes, transfer of technology and the exploration of more ways to create broader markets that connect our two countries, and West Africa were being pursued.

She said aside two main US priorities, namely, regional security and institution governance, her country was also interested in developing trade and investment relationships.

She said the visit of the robust trade mission illustrated the importance US attached to the trade and investment relationship and partnership between Ghana and US, as well as the US and West Africa more broadly.

Madam Sullivan said the journey to self-reliance also demanded enterprise-driven development and having this business to business connection are fantastic ways to help deepen the relationship.

From October 28-31, Mr Censky led over 40 American businesses to Ghana, in which other buyer delegations from Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal also participated in the various deliberations that was based in Ghana.

During his visit, he met with some government officials, private sector representatives, members of business associations, and academic institutions.

He paid a visit to both the Ministers of Food and Agriculture, Mr Owusu Afriyie Akoto as well as the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen to discuss bilateral agricultural trade.

The Deputy Secretary also interacted with African alumni from two U.S. government agricultural exchange programmes, namely, the Cochran Fellowship and the Borlaug Fellowship.

The alumni are those who received training in the United States to develop market-driven food systems and increase trade links with U.S. agribusinesses and performed research at U.S. institutions in topics ranging from animal health, food safety, and biotechnology.

He also led a roundtable discussion with representatives of the University of Ghana schools of veterinary medicine, agriculture, and animal science on the link between Ghanaian agriculture education and agriculture production.

Mr Censky met with the American Chamber of Commerce-Ghana (AMCHAM) to confer about the current business climate in Ghana, potential regional agricultural and export opportunities for U.S. products, and networked with AMCHAM members in the food and agricultural sector.

He also held meetings with Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance to discuss opportunities for U.S. businesses in Ghana and how U.S. agribusinesses could contribute to Ghana’s vision for agricultural sector prosperity.

He met with the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of Parliament and discussed with the legislators, the U.S. engagement and investment in the Ghanaian agriculture sector as well as the benefits of U.S. agricultural trade to domestic industries and Ghanaian consumers.

At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) we are working to sell the bounty of American agriculture.

West Africa is a bright spot with a growing middle class that are hungry for our delicious and wholesome agriculture products, said Mr Censky.

Through this trade mission and other efforts, USDA is proud to support President Trump’s Prosper Africa initiative, which is seeking to boost two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

Mr Censky was joined by Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, officials from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, and representatives from other trade institutions.

Source: Ghana News Agency