THE ROLE OF REGIONAL AND BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS IN THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF GHANA (Case: Ghana-China Relations)

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ABSTRACT


After the post-independence era of Ghana, development has been at a slow or retrogressive pace. This has resulted in a GDP of 3.6% in 2016, the lowest in 20 years.

The purpose of the research is to analyze the role of regional and bilateral trade agreements to Ghana’s economic development after the post-independence era. To meet the thesis objective both qualitative and quantitative research methods were applied. The author designed an unstructured interview style to gather relevant primary information from credible sources via Skype. Secondary data were obtained from electronic and printed sources.

The research findings demonstrated that trade is an important tool for rapid economic development if the issues of corruption, industrialization and the application of new economic concepts were implemented.

Finally, the results from the research could be generalized in accessing the fundamental economic problems of Ghana. However, further research in trade financing and the economic policy of countries could further enhance rapid economic growth in Ghana.


Key words: economic development, trade relations, foreign direct investment, corruption, industrialization


TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 INTRODUCTION
Background
Thesis objective, research questions and limitations
Theoretical framework
Research methodology and data collection
Thesis structure

2   THEORIES OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Rowstow’s model
            2.1.1 Traditional society
            2.1.2 Pre-conditions for take-off
            2.1.3 Take-off
            2.1.4 Drive to maturity
            2.1.5 High mass consumption
                        Leapfrogging
                        Comparative and absolute advantage
                        Dependency theory

3 ECONOMY OF GHANA
Key indicators
PESTEL analysis
Past
Current
Future
Political economy
Trade relations and policies
Preferential trade agreements
Trade policy objectives
Trade partners and agreements
Multilateral trade – participation in the WTO
Economic partnership agreement (EPA)
Sub-regional trade integration (ECOWAS)
Bilateral trade agreements

4 GHANA - CHINA RELATIONS
Cooperation arrangements
Direct investments
Trade – exports & imports
Aid
Research findings & analysis
Data acquisition process
Results and analysis

5 DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Comparative advantage – Ghana and China
Ghana and others
Leapfrogging
Regional integration & development

6 CONCLUSIONS
Answers to research questions
Reliability and validity
Suggestions for further research

7 SUMMARY
REFERENCES
APPENDICES


1     INTRODUCTION
This research-based thesis aims at investigating the merits and demerits of trans-Saharan and international trade Ghana has been part of since the thirteenth century. The primary focus of the study will unearth the pivotal roles these trade agreements have contributed to Ghana’s economic development since attaining independence and to provide recommendations to enhance progressive, stable and vibrant economic development in future. The results of the research will also enable the Ministry of Trade and Industry assess the overall performance of Ghana’s trade policy and analyse the West African trade market for prudent measures to be applied for improvement.

In subsequent chapters the author provides a background of the thesis topic, explains the research process and objectives, and introduces the case study on which the study is based on for which its results will be beneficial to the Government and people of Ghana.


Background


Ghana, formerly named the Gold Coast by European traders, is situated between the Trans-Saharan trade routes and the shores of West Africa. Ghana is endowed in natural resources and has been involved in trade activities since the 13th century. Since attaining independence from colonial rule, Ghana has been involved in bilateral and regional trade agreements with various regional and international bodies. On October 17, 1957 Ghana joined the General Agreement Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to initiate its intention and preparedness to join the trading world and joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1st, 1995. Prior to joining the WTO, Ghana had begun its regional trade activities by being a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since formation via the Lagos treaty on May 28, 1975 (Ghana Statistical Service 2017). After attaining independence from colonial rule, Ghana was very stable and prosperous with Ghana being the world’s largest producer in cocoa and a hub for rich natural resources such as gold, diamonds, bauxite etc. The country had good infrastructure to service trade and a relatively impressive educational and economic system. With the current state of economic dependency on western nations the author intends investigating the causes and reasons why the once vibrant economy is now caught in a cycle of debt, weak commodity demand, and currency overvaluation which has resulted in a decay of productive capacities and a crippling foreign debt. Ghana’s richness in natural resources necessitated its quest to involve in regional and bilateral trade agreements to provide progressive economic growth for the people of Ghana. However, the last two decades have seen economic retrogressing, which has rendered most industries collapsing, increase in unemployment, currency fluctuation, rising bond yields and mounting inflation (Bawumiah 2016.)

A crippling economy has seen Ghana seek for bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank on various occasions (Bawumiah 2016). It is an irrational fact as to why a country with immense potential for growth finds its economic fortunes dwindling gradually. Other multinational or bilateral trade relations have not been able to speed up the kind of economic recovery the country needs. Multilateral trade relations such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the West African Member states which is intended to liberalize certain market sectors for both parties have had less impact on the Ghanaian economy in terms local productivity (Bawumiah 2016).

A critical look at the economies of West African states reveals that nothing or just little benefits is derived from international and multinational trade agreements with powerful partners like the US and EU as they always determine the scope of the deals by having a majority share. Stiglitz (2001,

a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics states that, ‘’free trade agreements are not right for developing countries…it is not a negotiation, it is rather an imposition”. Assessing previous economic trade deals, it is...
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