by Shi Song, Justice Lee Adoboe
ACCRA, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- For Ghana's exporters, the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) in early November offers a good opportunity to enhance trade ties with China.
Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of Ghana's cocoa industry regulator Cocoa Board, expressed hope that the fair would open a new chapter in the western African country's cocoa exports.
"We are very hopeful that China's consumption of cocoa per capita will grow, therefore we have made inroads to China," Aidoo said.
Behind Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana is the second-largest cocoa exporter in the world. The government and planners have decided to make cocoa the leading product at the Ghana pavilion at the CIIE, which is scheduled for Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai.
"We believe that we can expand our market horizon in China. We are talking about 1.3 billion people, and even if we can get 1 percent of that market, it is very huge. So everybody is looking to China," Aidoo noted.
The CIIE offers Ghana an opportunity to showcase its cocoa as the leading product for the Chinese market, he added.
Data showed two-way trade between Ghana and China grew 12 percent to 6.7 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2017, up from 5.98 billion dollars in the previous year.
Among Ghana's exhibitors at the CIIE, the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) produces chocolate bars and a variety of chocolate powders, including the type for sugar-free cocoa drinks of natural taste.
"We want to enter the big market. We are getting into some of the institutions where we will get e-commerce and some satellite shops so that we can project ourselves," Nana Agyenim Boateng, the company's managing director, told Xinhua.
All its products for the CIIE show are expected to arrive in Shanghai before November, Boateng said. "It is going to be huge. Before we get back in November, we would have sealed all our agreements and moved on from there," he added.
Ebo Quaison, head of export at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, noted that Ghana is among the African countries invited to set up country pavilions at the CIIE.
"We are going to showcase cocoa and cocoa-related products as the lead, although we are going with over 50 different products," Quaison added.
"Unlike other fairs elsewhere where the visitors and locals compete for space and opportunities together, this very expo is different in nature," Quaison observed. "It is the first China International Import Expo, so the focus is on imports into the Chinese economy."
One major attraction at the Ghana pavilion will be a miniature farm intended to show what a cocoa farm really looks like for a better understanding of how cocoa beans are produced.
In Ghana, there are currently some 800,000 cocoa farmers. According to cocoa farmer Kwame Boateng, farmers like him believe the Shanghai CIIE could be an opportunity for Ghana to bring changes to its traditional market.
In their eyes, Boateng said, Ghana's producer price of cocoa beans has been under pressure since 2016 by international market pricing.
It is the Ghanian farmers' hope that the upcoming CIIE could help Ghana export more cocoa beans to China, he said, in addition to the old markets such as the United States, France and the Netherlands.
"At least there will be competition in the export destinations for the cocoa beans," he said.
Alongside the exhibition, the Ghanaian delegation will also organize a Ghana Trade and Business Forum in Shanghai, which partly features an introduction to Ghana's industrial transformation program.
"All in all, we are good to go," Quaison said.