Ghana has been fined €14,301 (about GH¢67,000) for failing to participate in two international trade fairs in Frankfurt, Germany.
Messe Frankfurt, organisers of Ambiente, a leading consumer trade fair in the world, levied the fine on the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) after it had paid €40,000 to secure exhibition space at the fair but failed to show up.
Officials of GEPA have confirmed the imposition of the penalty, but have dismissed the claim that Ghana paid €40,000 (about GH¢187,000) to participate in the event but failed to attend.
Ghana’s exhibition stand was empty when the Daily Graphic visited a number of country stands reserved for export promoting agencies which lead local exhibitors to display their products at the fair.
Sources close to Messe Frankfurt said arrangements for GEPA to participate in the fair started in 2016 and Ghana confirmed its participation with the payment of an exhibition fee of €40,000 ahead of the event.
However, GEPA failed to show up, disappointing Messe Frankfurt.
When contacted to explain the issue, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, Mr James Z. Tiigah, dismissed the claims that GEPA paid the €40,000 as exhibition fee.
He, however, confirmed that GEPA had been fined for its failure to notify the organisers about its inability to attend the trade fair.
He told the Daily Graphic that GEPA was fined €10,309 to cover the cost of a stand and its inability to attend Ambiente in 2015; it was fined €3,992.13 for the same reasons in 2016.
Explaining the reasons for GEPA’s failure to attend the just-ended Ambiente, Mr Tiiga said the trip to Germany had not been budgeted for, and that the authority was not in a good financial position to sponsor its officials to travel to Germany.
He stated that although GEPA would have wished to participate in the event, the fine could have been avoided, if the authority’s scheduled officer in charge of the Ambiente Fair had notified the organisers of GEPA’s inability to be at the trade exhibition.
“We did not deliberately decide not to go but the issue is that there was no budget for us to go. Also, the event coincided with the transition period so we were all busy,” the CEO told the Daily Graphic.
The General Manager of GEPA, Mr Stephen K. Normeshie, corroborated Mr Tiiga’s assertions and presented documents to the Daily Graphic to show how much GEPA actually owed Messe Frankfurt. The amount tallied with the two figures quoted above.
Ambiente 2017, with about 4,500 exhibitors, witnessed some of the world’s leading consumer goods, with a wide variety of events, promotional programmes, trend presentations and awards ceremonies.
The trade fair saw an extensive portfolio covering products for the home, furnishing, decorating, jewellery, fashion accessories, home textiles and outdoors. Renowned brands and key communicators use the platform to present their winter and Christmas trends.
This gives international bulk buyers the opportunity to place timely orders for their spring and summer collections.
Without the assistance of GEPA, some Ghanaian exhibitors managed to exhibit at the fair.
They included veteran non-traditional exporter Matamiss Pottery Ghana, producers and exporters of baskets, ceramics and trashy bags; Global Mamas, manufacturers/exporters of assorted African garments; TradeAid Integrated, makers of local baskets, and Tekura, producers of handmade furniture.
In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, they called on the government for support to participate in subsequent trade fairs just as other countries did for their non-traditional exporters, which often attract high attention at the fair.