Businessman, Dr. Kofi Amoah has urged government not to shy away from rolling out protectionist policies to favour local businesses.
He said major world economic powers such as US and China have done same when local businesses faced economic threat from imports.
“In creating domestic strength, we need to give protection to our fledgling domestic companies”, he told a meeting of over 1,000 business leaders and players at the 2017 CEOs Summit in Accra.
World economic powers have frowned on developing countries leveraging protectionist policies favouring open competition in an era of globalisation.
World economic leaders, in October 2016, gathered in Washington this week to defend globalization, delivering a single message in unison: Protectionism will not save you.
But pulling the record of economic behaviour among developed countries, Dr. Kofi Amoah referred to a passionate appeal by US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
“If you allow foreigners to bring their goods in here, we are dead,” he paraphrased the comment.
The appeal worked as America built tariff walls as high as 40% on foreign products.
He said China refused to join the club of open markets, the World Trade Organisation because, it would have opened up the country to imports which hurt local businesses.
“China didn’t join the WTO until 25 years ago. Now China is championing free trade because they have something to sell”.
Bringing the argument closer to home, the entrepreneur said neighbouring Nigeria has banned chicken imports.
“There is no reason why we should be importing chicken”.
It is an open secret that Ghana’s poultry industry has collapsed largely due to cheap and subsidised frozen chicken.
“About 95% of the market has been taken over by the imported frozen chicken,” Chairman of the Poultry Farmers Association of Ghana, Victor Oppong Adje has revealed.
Efforts by government to impose restrictions have been stifled by powerful external economic forces.
In 2014, the Managing Director of the Ghana Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Nico van Staalduinen warned Ghana against banning importation.
“Ghana is not an ideal country for the production of Chicken. Don’t jump to whatever you see,” he said.
But mounting a defence for protectionism, Kofi Amoah told government officials present at the event; “We need to apply the process of protectionism in selected areas to help build domestic strength”
His views are backed by international NGO Oxfam which has urged African countries to protect themselves from an invasion of foreign goods.
“If we want to see a more inclusive global growth then it has to have a space for protection,” said Max Lawson of Oxfam GB.
Some Asian countries, such as Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan, built their own economic expansions on strong exports and severe restrictions on imports to protect their domestic markets.
On the African continent, Ethiopia, which is forecast to see strong growth in 2016 of 6.5 percent, has jealously guarded its own telecoms and financial sectors.