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14.08.2005 Business & Finance

Ghana earned €170m in wood products last year


Akyawkrom (Ash), Aug. 14, GNA - Ghana's trade in wood products with countries of the European Union (EU) fetched about 170 million Euros (216 million dollars) while North America accounted for about 16 per cent.

Alhaji Alhassan N Attah, Executive Director of the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) made this disclosure at a National Workshop on the Implementation of Wood Packaging Materials Regulation - ISPM 15 at the Wood Industry Training Centre (WITC) at Akyawkrom near Ejisu at the weekend. The workshop was organised by the TIDD in collaboration with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services (PPRS) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for timber industry stakeholders. It was aimed at enabling the Ghanaian exporters to know the requirements of the standard and be in compliance ahead of its implementation.

Alhaji Alhassan said any regulations in these export markets which were likely to have impact on trade with Ghana were therefore of paramount interest since Ghanaian shippers cannot accept exclusion from exporting their goods to these countries.

"It is against this background that the implementation of the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) number 15 was of interest to the Forestry Commission and the government."

Alhaji Alhassan said this development presented opportunities to the timber industry for two reasons, that firstly, it was an opportunity to use more and more of the lesser used timber species to manufacture packaging materials such as pallets, boxes, crates for use by exporters in the country.

Secondly, he said, it presented an opportunity to use the excess kilning capacity of the industry to dry Wood Packaging Material (WPM) to generate additional revenue for the country.

The Executive Director of TIDD said exportation was a long process that required persistence, perseverance, strength and the ability to cope with changes in the global environment.

He therefore implored operators in the timber industry not to see the regulation as another non-tariff barrier, bottleneck or obstacle to trade but to develop proactive export strategies so as to see a future for the industry in the light of global development.

Alhaji Alhassan said, "It is only when we are able to cope with the changes in the international market place that we can position ourselves to face the competition. We must therefore see the WPM regulation as a responsible export strategy which ensures the absence of physosanitary pests in the packaging material used for goods exported to other countries".

He said one of the issues, which was of concern to the country's trading partners was responsible timber purchasing and that the responsible purchasing policy assesses suppliers for evidence of legality and sustainability of supply and encouraged improvement. The next step for us to take as an industry now is to work in partnership with the private sector to move Ghana's Forest Certification Scheme forward to the level of implementation so as to make Ghana a source of certified timber.

Mr Roger Damien Cardoso, President of the Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO) said the timber industry was a very dynamic industry, which had been undergoing strategic reforms in the last few years in response to both internal and external stimuli. These changes, he said, entailed reform, which was geared towards streamlining the industry to make it more sustainable and beneficial to all stakeholders in the country.