One of the major interventions by government for the export sector is the establishment of the Export and Import Bank of Ghana (EXIM), the President, John Dramani Mahama, has noted.
President Mahama, who made the observation in an address delivered on his behalf at the 26th President's National Awards for Export Achievement, 2015 in Accra on Wednesday, said the EXIM Bank was envisaged to support the private sector to diversify and expand its supply base as well as its domestic and export markets and the entire production and export chain of high earning export products.
The EXIM Bank, he said, would provide the much-needed funds to implement the National Export Development Programme (NEDP) 2016-2020 as it related to the eleven priority export products including cashew, medicinal plants and processed cocoa, which had been earmarked to lead the growth and increase of the Export sector and the Non-Traditional Export (NTE) sector, respectively.
He said the EXIM Bank had provisions to allow cashew farmers to access it to expand their export and that in order to maximize earnings from the cashew sector, government would encourage the processing of at least 50 per cent of cashew nuts for export and operationalize the Cashew Development Strategy to increase production volumes and value-addition activities along the cashew nut value chain.
The President said government would encourage investment in the large-scale cultivation of medicinal plants for export and continue to support the Centre for Research into Plant Medicine to assist producers to produce safe and efficacious herbal medications for the sub- region and beyond.
President Mahama said to further increase the production volume and export value of processed cocoa products, which continued to be the lead product in the NTE sector, government was maintaining the target of processing at least 60 per cent of cocoa beans produced in Ghana by supporting major chocolate manufacturing companies to establish and upgrade their processing plants.
He said the overall objective of the five-year National Export Strategy, which was launched in August 2014, was to develop the potential of the NTE sector to enable it make maximum contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and national development in order to consolidate and enhance Ghana's middle-income status, create formal decent job opportunities and ensue high standards of living for the people.
He said his support for the introduction of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET) through Regional Economic Integration was aimed at maximizing multiple benefits such as lower tariff and non-tariff barriers, increased market size and the possibility of building cross-border production chains, adding that together with the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, CET would facilitate Ghana's goal towards an ECOWAS Free Trade Area.
President Mahama said the unprecedented infrastructural projects-- new roads, transportation systems and the expansion of the country's ports-- were all geared towards the facilitation of export and import processes, amongst others.
Furthermore, he said the launch the Ghana Import Export and Transit Process Manual-- a document to guide the shipping community on the various trade processes through the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) -- was to facilitate their business operations, adding that GNSW was a positive development for international trade operations and that which would position the country to achieve its vision of a diversified economy, effective revenue collection and deploying a transparent process to support the country's approach to good governance policies.
The Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Murtala Mohammed, debunked assertions that Ghana had made more imports from the European Union than it exported to the Union, saying the reverse was rather the case.
Mr Mohammed noted that as a result of government's interventions, Ghana recorded a reduction on the importation of foreign rice and sugar.
He disclosed that a ceramic factory had been established in the Western region to produce ceramics for export and that a Consumer Protection Law was in the offing.
He reminded the private sector of their role in employment creation and in building the fundamentals of the economy, and urged beneficiaries of the EXIM Bank loans to pay up their loans when due for payment..
The Chairman of the Board of the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority (GEPA), Mr Kobina Ade-Coker, pledged the commitment of GEPA to providing the needed tools to facilitate the operations of exporters.
Welcoming the audience to the ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, Mr James Zuugah Tiigah, expressed the hope that with the implementation of the National Export Strategy, which was launched in 2013, export revenues would witness a significant amount of growth in the next few years.
Mr Tiigah disclosed that GEPA had embarked on a number of programmes and activities to support the competitiveness of Ghana's exports.
These, he said, included the provision of market information to the exporter community; delivery of market development assistance to exporters; initiation of product development programmes; capacity-building of exporters; and the development of national export awareness.
He urged exporters to take advantage of the opportunities under the preferential international trade agreements such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
On challenges, Mr Tiigah mentioned the temporary ban on the export of some vegetables from Ghana which, he said, affected the growth of the NTE sector.
He, however, gave the assurance that this challenge would be overcome as the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in collaboration of GEPA and other institutions, was working hard to implement the necessary corrective measures to ensure Ghana's compliance with European Union quality standards.
The President's National Awards for Export Achievement was introduced in 1989 by GEPA as part of the overall plan by government to stimulate the growth of the NTE sector and as a cushion to the volatility of earnings from traditional exports.
The Awards ceremony is organized annually to acknowledge, encourage and celebrate excellence of companies and individuals operating in the NTE sector.
It is also aimed at giving exporters the opportunity to gain valuable exposure and well-deserved recognition for their national and global expansion endeavours.
The Awards categories include Special Honorary Awards; Silver Awards; Gold Awards and Platinum Awards.
The others are Most Diversified Exporter; Award for Export Services and Exporter opf the year
This year's event was organized on the theme: 'Celebrating Export Excellence', with Niche Cocoa Industry, which exports cocoa products and confectionery, emerging as the Exporter of the Year.
In 2015, Ghana's total revenue from NTEs amounted to US$ 2.522 billion, representing a modest growth over the previous year's performance of US$2.514 billion.