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World economic downturn to affect non-traditional exports

By GNA

The Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) is projecting a marginal growth rate of 19 per cent in non-traditional exports (NTE) this year because of the downturn in the global economy.

NTE exports have seen steady improvements in recent years with annual growth averaging 30 per cent, Mr Maxwell Kusi, Deputy Director Research,

said on Thursday.
In 2007, exports of NTE crops reached an all time high of US$1.2 billion, bringing the sector's contribution to 27.7 per cent of the country's total exports of 4.2 billion dollars.

The growth was achieved on the back of earnings from three main sub-sectors - agriculture, processed and semi-processed products and handicrafts. Cocoa paste, canned tuna, veneer, cocoa butter, sheanuts and pineapples are among the 10 leading NTE products

GEPC has projected a US$4 billion in NTE revenue by 2010 which, it hopes, to achieve through increased funding into the sector, particularly to expand supply capacity.

However, briefing a team of MBA students from Lagos State University on the role of GEPC in national development, Mr Kusi said the credit crunch was likely to dampen the performance of the sector this year and there was the need to concentrate on further developing the West African market.

The European Union and West Africa remained the major destination of NTEs,

accounting for 46.55 per cent and 31.36 per cent respectively of the exports, Mr Kusi said.

The leading markets include the United Kingdom, France, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo and United States.

Mr Kusi told the students that lack of infrastructure, access to credit and diversification of products remained major challenges to the development of the sector.

He said for the sector to make the desired impact access to long-term financing was critical to enable the exporters to build and develop niche market for their products.

Mr Kusi said government was addressing the finance issue through the Export Development and Investment Fund, Ghana Investment Fund, Venture Capital Fund and Exim Guaranty to provide the necessary finance to assist exporters.

There are over 383 different NTE export products categorized into agricultural, processed/semi-processed and handicrafts. The GEPC had a base of over 3,000 registered private sector exporting companies organized into 15 product associations.

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