Efforts by government to shore-up exports—both traditional and non-traditional—to generate much-needed forex earnings and to balance the country’s trade will be meaningless unless activities of the Ghana Exim Bank are realigned to that course, deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, has said.
“We came into government to inherit a new Act establishing the Exim Bank, which takes away the Exports Development Fund from the Trade Ministry to a different one. This has actually thrown the National Exports Strategy into a bit of disarray.
“If activities of the Exim Bank are not supporting the National Exports Strategy—which is to say that the ideas of GEPA are not bought into by the bank—then all the prospects that such export promotional activities bring to the fore cannot be carried out due to financing,” he said the 78th National Exporters Forum in Accra.
Mr. Ahenkorah said it is becoming increasingly difficult for people who have an urge for the exports business to launch their interest or initiatives, because of the absence of a strong financial backbone for the sector.
He said there are people in the districts and rural areas who have products for export, but how to process them for export has become a challenge.
Some also, he argued, just need an office space to start making the necessary contacts for their business; but, again, how to access funds to push their ideas remains an issue.
That notwithstanding, the deputy trade minister said government will do everything within its power to minimise the barriers which impede the progress of exports business – on the premise it is only when local companies are empowered to compete strongly on the global market that there can be economic emancipation.
For instance, to tackle the challenges facing small businesses in the exports value chain, Mr. Ahenkorah said his ministry has charged GEPA and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to consider creating ‘impact hubs’, where young exporters/start-ups can access the right space and facilities to grow their business.
The National Exporters Forum is a platform for interaction between exporters and all related regulatory stakeholders in the business of export trade.
Participants identify and address constraints in the non-traditional export sector, and also get first-hand information about export activities and programmes in the NTE sector.
2017 Non-traditional export figures
Earnings from non-traditional exports between January to December 2017 amounted to US$2.56billion, representing a 3.81 percent increase over the previous year’s figure of US$2.46billion.
This was driven largely by an increase in the export of cocoa products, which rose by 60.5 percent from US$542.3million in 2016 to US$870.2million in the year under review.
Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Afua Asabea Asare, in her remarks indicated that exports have a huge impact on the economy in terms of forex earnings and import-dependency.
This, to her, is the motivation behind GEPA’s commitment to grow the sector to exports business, especially the NTEs sub-sector, to contribute maximally to national development and to consolidate the country’s lower middle-income status, create job opportunities and ensure better living standards.
Launch of GEPA Buyer Portal
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority has also launched a buyer-portal, an integrated segment of the GEPA Market Hub designed to provide useful links and information on exporter companies to potential global importers.
Commenting on the innovation, Mr. Ahenkorah said: “Such an effective and well-designed buyer-portal will provide the basis for continuous dialogue and relationship-building between exporters and buyers”.