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Ghana: Balance of Trade and Payments
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Foreign Investments and Assistance > Balance of Trade and Payments


Despite efforts under the ERP to stabilize the country's balance of payments, Ghana's current account remained in deficit throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s. Both trade and services deficits continued into the 1990s, given the country's dependence on concessional inflows and IMF funding. The current account deficit fell by US$91 million in 1986 from US$134 million in 1985, but it rose again by US$54 million in 1987. After another recovery in 1988, it was back at US$99 million in 1989 and widened to US$228 million in 1990, US$253 million in 1991, US$378 million in 1992. It was projected to fall to US$190 million in 1994.

The government did succeed, however, in building up at least some external reserves. By the end of 1991, official foreign exchange reserves totaled US$538 million, more than double the level at the end of 1990 and the highest amount for at least a decade. The increase resulted from the Bank of Ghana's attempt to boost reserves to cover more than four months' imports. For example, the government allowed exporting companies to retain some of their foreign exchange earnings inside the country. For Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, the portion is 45 percent. Exporters of other products, except cocoa, may keep up to 35 percent of earnings in retention accounts, and the Ghana Cocoa Board may keep 10 percent. The retained export earnings can be used for the import of equipment, spare parts, and essential inputs as well as for meeting the exporters' external financial obligations. By late December 1991, foreign exchange reserves were sufficient to finance almost twenty weeks of imports. In 1992 foreign exchange reserves dropped to US$291.6 million because the government had to use its reserves to cover current foreign obligations. By September 1993, the foreign exchange reserve totalled US$276.9 million.

Foreign assets and liabilities of the Ghanaian banking system as a whole showed a positive trend. Compared with the first half of 1991, Ghana's assets with reporting banks rose by 14.7 percent to US$1 billion in the second half of the year. Assets at the end of 1991 were 12.7 percent higher than the US$923 million on hand at the end of 1990. Liabilities also rose significantly from US$368 million to US$437 million during the first half of 1991 and by 25.9 percent during the year as a whole. Overall, however, there was a positive net increase. Net assets stood at US$603 million at the end of 1991 as against US$539 million in June 1991 and US$576 million in December 1990.

Data as of November 1994

Last Updated: November 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Ghana was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 108 of 181


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