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Business News of Friday, 21 August 2015

Source: B&FT

Trade Minister worried over low intra-Africa trade figures

The deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mohammed Murtala has expressed worry at the export volumes within the African sub-region. Intra-Africa trade amongst Ghana and other African countries stands at a low 12 percent, which according to the minister calls for a concerted action to improve exports to other African countries.

“We need to explore more into the African market. Export is less than 12 percent and that is not good enough.

“We have huge deposit of salt in Ghana; it would make economic sense for Nigeria to import salt from Ghana, that’s an over-150million market size,” he said.

Statistics from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) indicate that 34% of the country’s Non-Traditional Exports end up in the EU market, 10% in other developed countries, and about 32% for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) market.

Ghana made US$2.2billion from non-traditional exports for the first eight months of last year to overtake cocoa as Ghana’s third-highest export earner.

Now the deputy Minister reckons Ghana needs to target more markets in the West African sub-region to grow its non-traditional export (NTE) products, a move that seeks to boost intra-African trade which holds the key to the market diversification agenda

“We need to grow the West African market by means of proximity and holding onto markets in the EU if not expanding them.”

He believes exporters and the GEPA can do more to improve on intra-Africa trade within the African region.

The deputy trade minister also urged Ghana and other African countries to diversify primary products and address challenges related to standardisation to compete in global trade markets.

“I think a joint effort from African countries will help to address the issue of substandard and counterfeit medical products, he said.

Ghana’s non-traditional products in 2014 were exported to 138 countries. These countries include the European Union (EU), other developed countries, ECOWAS and other African countries, and countries outside Africa.

A significant piece of Ghana’s non-traditional products can be found in horticultural items -- such as vegetables, pineapples, others -- all equalling 20% of the country’s exports.

The CEO of GEPA George Quarnoo told B&FT that as part of the country’s export strategy, which is looking at doubling its export revenue between now and 2019 -- with a US$5billion target, there should be no room for reductions.