The Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) is projecting a marginal growth rate of 19 percent 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 percent, Mr. Maxwell Kusi, Deputy Director Research, said last week.
In 2007, exports of NTE crops reached an all time high of US$1.2 billion, bringing the sector's contribution to 27.7 percent of the country's total exports of $4.2 billion.
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, sheanut and pineapple are among the 10 leading NTE products
The GEPC has projected $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, Kusi said the credit-crunch was likely to dampen the performance of the sector this year and there is 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 percent and 31.36 percent respectively of the exports, Kusi said.
The leading markets include the United Kingdom, France, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo and the United States.
Kusi told the students that lack of infrastructure, access to credit and diversification of products remained major challenges to 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 build and develop niche markets for their products.
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 categorised into agricultural, processed/semi-processed and handicrafts.
The GEPC had a base of over 3,000 registered private sector exporting companies organised into 15 product associations.