Singapore has begun talks with the government to secure a double-taxation agreement with Ghana in a move that is intended to deepen trade ties between the two countries.
The Singapore government has since last year set up an office in the country for its investment promotion and facilitation agency, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, in a bid to promote and facilitate investment flow from Singapore into Ghana and other West-African states.
According to IE Singapore, the Singapore government’s agency tasked to promote Singapore’s external economy through trade and overseas investments, there is a lot of interest from Singaporean investors to find trade partners in Africa.
The Centre Director of IE Singapore, Ian Lee, said negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries have been put on hold as a double-taxation agreement is what is required to boost bilateral trade between West Africa’s second-biggest economy and ASEAN’s largest economy.
He said investment guarantee agreements, which Singaporean investors often require to invest in other economies, are not needed in Ghana as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) protects the investments of foreign entities.
“Our negotiation is basically on double-taxation avoidance. For investment guarantees, we are told it is not required because GIPC laws and regulations protect all foreign investments into Ghana.
“So we don’t need investment guarantee agreements as we require in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. At the moment a double-taxation agreement is what the both countries can benefit from,” he said.
Trade volumes between Singapore and Ghana have grown between 3-5% annually over the past five years. Currently, the value of trade between the two countries is almost US$200million.
In 2010, trade between the two countries hit an all-time high, crossing the US$1billion mark following delivery of the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to aid oil production in the Jubilee Field of Ghana.
Subsequently, in the last week of August this year, Singapore will be hosting the third Africa Singapore Business Forum (ASBF) as a way to stimulate stronger trade and investment flows between Singapore and Africa.
Mr. Lee said interest among Ghanaian public officials in the forum scheduled for August 27-28 this year is high, and urged private business people to take advantage of the Forum to find the right trade partners in Singapore.
He said IE Singapore will take the initiative to organise strategic Business-to-Business meetings for Ghanaian businesses that will participate in the upcoming Africa-Singapore Business Forum as a number of Singapore investors are looking for the right partners in Ghana.
“Already there is a lot from the public sector, and I want to see more participation from the private sector because they will be the ones to sustain the bilateral interest between the two countries.
“I promise that Ghanaian businesses who participate in the ASBF will get a chance to have B2B meetings. Because, first of all, there are a lot of Singapore businesses that want to come to Ghana but cannot find the right partners. From water and sanitation, oil & gas to financial services, there is a lot of interest from Singapore companies to find the right partners in Ghana,” he added.