Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan
Opening Session of the U.S.-Ghana Business Forum
September 8, 2021 | 1:30 p.m.
Thank you, Ayesha, for the introduction.
Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen, all protocols observed, it is a real pleasure for me to participate in the opening session of this Business Forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ghana.
The U.S. and Ghana share a longstanding, strong, and dynamic relationship. We work together on a broad spectrum of issues, including public health, education, entrepreneurship, security, and perhaps most important for this audience, building business relationships.
American businesses and investors deepen the ties between our two countries. We greatly appreciate the leadership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ghana in advancing this aspect of our long-term partnership.
There are well over a hundred U.S. firms operating in Ghana. From the development and exploration of major oil fields by Kosmos Energy to the transformation of healthcare delivery by Zipline, which transports lifesaving medical products and vaccines to remote areas by drone, companies are finding success in Ghana and contributing to prosperity in both our countries. American innovators are eager to partner with Ghanaian businesses across a wide range of industries that support their work, from logistics to raw materials, and much, much more.
I am very pleased that despite the pandemic, this year several well-known American companies and brands have chosen Ghana as a market for growth: Twitter announced in April that it will open its West African headquarters here; the Fareast Mercantile Company recently opened a new Estee Lauder cosmetics store as well as two Domino’s pizza franchise stores in Accra; and in May, United Airlines reopened its direct non-stop route between Washington, DC and Accra. That same United flight delivered more than 1.2 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Ghana last Saturday morning. Along with Delta Airlines’ non-stop from New York, business travelers on both sides of the ocean have direct access to each other’s markets.
Ghanaian firms, too, are succeeding in the U.S. market, where consumers are benefiting from quality made products made right here in Ghana. For example, Emi-Beth Aku-Quantson is the dynamic owner of Kawa Moka coffee and an alumna of our Embassy exchange programs. She landed a contract with Boston-based 7-11 stores to supply hundreds of well-known convenience stores with Ghanaian-grown coffee. American firm Bunge Loders Croklaan, is processing shea butter here in Ghana at a state-of-the-art fractionation facility in Tema, creating jobs locally, and exporting shea products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Today, more than 6,500 goods can be exported duty-free from Ghana to the United States. Last year, Ghana exported almost $136 million in goods to the United States, from mostly Ghanaian companies.
As Africa’s economy, and economies around the globe, dust themselves off from the effects of the pandemic, the opportunity is ripe for the African Continental Free Trade Area to deliver on its objective to expand intra-regional trade and capture new foreign direct investment – with Ghana in the lead as host of the Secretariat. The AfCFTA is a game changer not only for doing business across the continent, but also for how the world thinks of Africa. And Ghana is well positioned to capitalize on the new economic synergies and opportunities for growth that AfCFTA can bring to the continent.
I am told there is a Ghanaian proverb that I think fits quite well here: If an opportunity is not taken when it comes, it passes away.
That entrepreneurial spirit of working hard, taking advantage of opportunities, and finding success is alive and well in Ghana, and it’s a cornerstone of the U.S. – Ghana commercial relationship. Small and large companies alike, starting with an innovative idea, growing and expanding, then seeking partners and customers across the ocean – are what keep our trade relationship so active and vibrant.
I remember during the visit of then-President Bill Clinton in March 1998, during my earlier assignment in Ghana, first hearing of Ghana as the “Gateway to Africa,” and I have watched our economic relationship grow and mature since then.
For American companies participating today who might be new to the Ghanaian market, I say to you: don’t let this opportunity pass!
From perfume to pizza, from tweets to flights, U.S. companies are finding what they seek in Ghana: a growing economy, political stability, security, and the enormous promise of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
At our Mission in Accra, we have a dedicated interagency deal team focused on supporting U.S. companies, helping them to find partners, navigate the regulatory environment, and win deals. You can contact my team directly at AccraDealTeam@state.gov. I encourage all interested American firms to seek the support of our Deal Team, made up of the U.S. Commercial Service, the Foreign Agriculture Service, the Trade and Development Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the State Department’s Economic Section.
Thank you for your kind attention.