Business News of 2014-07-02

Ghanaian exporters can turn to Africa — GEPA

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Mr Gideon Quarcoo, has said the African continent holds what he described as a tremendous room to serve as the destination for Ghana’s export.

Currently, Ghana’s commodities exported to the rest of Africa, aside West Africa, stand at about 3.93 per cent, while exports to ECOWAS and the European Union markets (EU) stand at 37 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

According to Mr Quarcoo, the vast difference between the figures indicates that opportunities still abound for Ghana, and subsequently stressed the need for a concerted effort to venture into that market.

“It is a huge opportunity waiting for us. Others are also looking at those markets and, therefore, a lot of work needs to be done now to take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

Mr Quarcoo was speaking to a section of journalists at a seminar for agencies and stakeholders on the “National Export Strategy (NES)” aimed at developing the potential of Ghana’s non-traditional exports (NTEs) to contribute substantially to economic growth.

The call comes at a time when the country is being compelled to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which has many strings attached, with the European Union.

It is feared that the country may be at a disadvantage should it go ahead with the signing.

The non-traditional export sector features agricultural, processed and semi-processed products, as well as handicrafts.

Earnings from the sector in 2013 amounted to US$2.44 billion, an increase of 3.05 per cent over the previous year’s earnings of US$2.36 billion.

Despite the low performance of the sector, the GEPA’s acting CEO says reaching the US$5 billion export target is still on course.

While acknowledging that it would be a herculean task, Mr Quarcoo said one area of importance should be adding value to some of the products that were being exported.

“One area that gives me confidence is the area of value addition. We can really begin to add value to products that hitherto go abroad in their raw form; our hope is that we can do it,” he said.

Strategic plan

The National Export Strategy is a five-year strategic plan set within the context of Ghana’s long-term strategic vision of achieving middle-income status through its transformation into an industry-driven economy.

The document would also outline areas that need to be harnessed to raise the global competitiveness of Ghana’s non-traditional exports.

In all, there are 23 national export development projects to be implemented across five strategic thematic areas, including the expansion of production and supply base, as well as the development of the export market.

The rest include manpower development and institutional capacity building for exports, incentives, regulatory framework and cross-cutting issues.

The plan was launched by the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and it is expected to be implemented from 2013-2017.

It also provides innovative and proactive ideas that will show the way forward for the non-traditional export sector to realise its full potential and contribute more effectively to wealth creation, generation of employment and poverty reduction.

The Technical Advisor in charge of Export Trade Development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Gerald Nyarko Mensah, giving a presentation on the strategy at the forum, said the target was to more than double revenue from NTEs at the end of implementation.

That, he said, was no mean a task, hence the need to look at the country’s strengths on the export market, as against opportunities that exist and see how best to tap into those opportunities.

Need for collaboration

The stakeholders forum brought together industry players from agencies such as the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), Gratis Foundation, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), among others.

Mr Quarcoo, therefore, called for a high level of collaboration to implement the plan, as each stakeholder had a specific role to play in achieving the target set by the NES, achieving US$5 billion from the export of NTEs by the end of 2017.