Trade practitioners and experts have outlined various means Ghana can scale up its exports as Africa gets ready for a 3 trillion-dollar continental free market from January 1, 2021.
Speaking on Eye on Port on how to promote value addition to Ghana’s exports to remain competitive in a continental economy, the Director of Projects at Ghana Exports Promotion Authority, Alexander Dadzawa expressed that the Government sees a major opportunity in the African Continental Free Trade Area to take advantage of, in its ambitions to balance the trade deficit of exports to imports.
“The potential we have is big and we haven’t taken advantage of it. So the idea is to give a big push to grow our export sector to harness its full potential, riding on the back of the AfCFTA.”
He said with Ghana hovering below 3 billion dollars in its annual Non-Traditional Exports numbers, the National Export Development Strategy has been developed to harness the full potential of non-traditional exports, which would provide a significant boost to GDP growth, create jobs and improve standard of living.
According to him, the NEDS, which is an initiative by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and coordinated by GEPA, when successfully implemented is expected to rake in $25.3 billion in annual NTEs by 2029.
Also speaking on Eye on Port, the Principal Advisor at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Dr. Joseph Atta-Mensah, called for Ghanaians to focus on the opportunities that lie within the Continental Free Trade Area which would have a major positive impact on the prices of goods that are traded across the continent.
He called for businesses to be proactive in researching available opportunities within the National Export Development Strategy and not solely rely on government to provide all the information, so that they can position themselves, add value to their products and prepare themselves for the huge liberated African market.
“The opportunities the National Export Strategy presents is beautiful but businesses should seize it, find out what are these strategic products that GEPA is talking about, pull resources, and find a way to add value,” he urged.
Dr. Atta-Mensah argued that it is advisable to commence the ACFTA implementation and address the accompanying challenges as they emerge.
He also advised the Ghana Government to consider creating an enticing atmosphere that would work towards making Ghana the financial hub within the AfCFTA, similar to that of New York.
“Ghana should begin to look at the possibility of taking advantage of this trade area secretariat here in Ghana, to create a financial hub. This would attract the best banks and bankers, lawyers, and this would eventually help create jobs. It would also boost trade financing,” he articulated.
Taking her turn on Eye on Port, Naa Amanua Williams, the Owner and Head Designer at Emma Bird Handmade Jewelry and Accessories, who is an exporter of jewelries and accessories made from cut garments lauded the AfCFTA initiative, but called for more education on its benefits and potentials.
“In terms of growth expectation, it would be good to see it broken down into the various sectors so we can know what opportunities there are,” she said.
She called for more dialogues between GEPA and private enterprises that would drive innovation as well as address of challenges within the export sector.
Naa Amanua Williams bemoaned the current inconsistencies in the cost of logistics within Africa, which has been a major impediment to trading within Africa and expressed hope that the AfCFTA will address that and other trade facilitation issues.
She also called for collaborations between industries and academia, in an effort to improve research in value addition to the country’s export products.
The experts on a whole identified how value addition among other interventions when successfully executed will elevate the country’s status to the heights of outstanding developed economies like Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and China who have all enjoyed their successes riding on the back of effective exports.