Exports of non-traditional products for the year 2017 amounted to $2.6 billion, a 3.81 per cent increase over the previous year’s earnings of $2.5 billion.
The 2017 performance is largely due to an increase in exports of cocoa products, which rose by 60.5 per cent from $542.3 million in 2016 to $870.2 million in 2017, figures from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) indicated.
The country’s non-traditional exports (NTEs) for the past five years (2013-2017) grew at an average rate of 1.22 per cent. The sector currently contributes 18.37 per cent to the total national merchandise export.
The figures were released at the 78th National Export Forum in Accra yesterday. The forum also served as a platform for the launch of the Buyer Portal of the Market Hub.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, said the GEPA was committed to growing earnings from NTEs.
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“GEPA has over the past 10 years been committed to a number of strategic interventions geared towards increasing the contribution of the NTEs from the current $2.55 billion to $5.3 billion by the end of 2021,” she said.
Notable among the interventions, she said, were the introduction of a pilot mass spraying and distribution of grafted cashew seedlings in Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The government would also spray about 70,000 acres annually and that was expected to increase yield by 30 per cent, she added.
GEPA has developed a 10-year development plan for cashew production which included value addition.
According to her, the authority had prepared and delivered 15 million suckers of pineapple and had committed GHȼ4.2 million to the procurement of the suckers. That was expected to increase revenues to an estimated $13.1 million from pineapple production in few years.
Again, she noted, that the GEPA had undertaken extensive consultations with all metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies throughout the country to identify at least one crop from each district, which would be developed for export.
Ms Asare added that the Buyer Portal, an integrated segment of the GEPA Market Hub, was designed to provide useful links and information on exporters to potential importers globally.
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, who launched the report and the portal, indicated that the forum provided a platform to address various market access issues that confronted the export community.
“I am particularly fascinated about the buyer portal which offers benefits such as integration, relationship building and simplicity. Its ability to bring all the different buying and supply channels into one place and provide seamless links to all provides enormous benefits akin to a one-stop-shop,” Mr Ahenkorah said.
He explained that an effective and well-designed buyer portal could also provide the basis for continuous dialogue and relationship building between exporters and buyers.
The deputy trade minister indicated that the government had outlined a number of strategic interventions, including the national industrial revitalisation programme with a stimulus fund of $200 million to overhaul distressed but commercially viable companies.
He added that the development and diversification component of those initiatives espoused the need to evolve a clear national exports strategy aimed at diversification, competitiveness and the development of more export markets for the expanded products.