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17.10.2007 Business & Finance

EPA & export house: major challenges for export sector

By daily Express- Samuel COLEMAN

The Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) last Friday celebrated the success chalked by exporters in the year 2006 with the crowning of Naja David Veneer & Plywood Limited as the Exporter of the Year 2006.

Although it was a time for celebration, Executive Secretary of the GEPC Edward Collins Boateng reminded exporters that there are major challenges ahead which must be taken care off in order to become the leading player in Ghana's middle income agenda.

Addressing guests at the 18th National Awards for Export Achievement at the State Banquet Hall, Accra Mr. Boateng identified work on an Exporters House as a major challenge the industry faces in the future.

According to him, when completed it will give Ghanaian exporters a competitive edge and improve Ghana's image as an exporting haul.

The impact of the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement according to Mr. Boateng is the other challenge. He told the gathering that whatever the outcome of the December deadline for Africa and Caribbean countries to sign the agreement, the removal of trade barriers and tariffs should be the ultimate goal of exporters.

Nana Osei Bentuo, Board Chairman of the Export Development & Investment Fund (EDIF) said in his address that if non-traditional exports are given the same attention and investment that cocoa and timber receives, the sector can contribute $4 billion annually to the nation's economy.

GEPC Board Chairman Mr. Sekeyre Abankwa in an address read on his behalf reiterated the expectation that the NTE sector will hit the $1 billion mark this year. He stressed the need to recognize that the macroeconomic stability and the ever-improving business climate are also additional incentives in the export drive.

Among the institutions that won awards on the night were Ghana Nuts Limited and EDIF, receiving awards for most diversified exporter of the year and export services of the year respectively.

Other award winners were Interplast, Lion Aluminum, Aluworks, Jowak Enterprise, Uniliver, Ayum Forest Products, Ghana Cotton Company, West African Fishery Products, Blue Sky Products and Scanstyle.

The national export award was instituted in 1989 to become an important component of the overall plan and effort of the Ghana Export Promotion Council to boost exports from the non-traditional exports sector.