Chief executive officer of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Dr Afua Asabea Asare, has disclosed that the Authority has plans of expanding international trade centers to three countries by the end of the year to support growth of Non-traditional Exports (NTEs).
According to her, this will largely help with the next phase of GEPA in meeting its target. She revealed that such expansion will equally help exporters optimally market their products to the rest of the world.
“We are looking at pitching our tents in every country, in very strategic markets that we think will support the growth of the NTEs and we’ve started with Kenya where we have the first Ghana trade house. So, this is where we consolidate the products of the exporters, especially those who want to export but in smaller quantities.
“We just consolidate everything and put it in the export trade house for onward distribution to the East African bloc – it’s doing quite well. Hopefully, we’ll be able to expand to other countries by the end of the year about two or three…”Dr Afua Asabea Asare
Commenting on trade expansion in Ghana being affected by cost and limited access to credit, Dr Asare expressed concern over the issue. She stated that it is something which should be of concern to all stakeholders, especially considering the gains made so far within the Authority.
“… We have been encouraging lots of small businesses to upscale in export, and in upscaling, they need the funding. If we are having all kinds of conditions and very expensive trade financing and outlets, it’s like we’re building up to a certain crescendo and leave them hanging. So, it is quite difficult.”Dr Afua Asabea Asare
To address the situation, Dr Asare stated that GEPA as it stands now, can only act as a facilitator by talking and negotiating with the banks to come up with products that can help the exporters.
Additionally, she noted that institutions such as the Ghana Enterprises Agency, which has been resourced by government to also support them one way or the other, and the EXIM Bank are supporting exporters to fund their businesses.
“So, there are various avenues to look at. It may not be enough, but for now, that is what we can do, and we are always looking for how to alleviate some of the hardships they face in sourcing for financing.”Dr Afua Asabea Asare
Exporters taking advantage of AfCFTA
Meanwhile, the CEO of GEPA has emphasized the need for Ghana not to only pride itself in having the AfCFTA headquarters stationed in the country but work equally hard to benefit from the trade area.
She explained that particularly with NTEs, there must be deliberate efforts to ensure they cross the borders of the country.
“I think the whole of Africe will benefit from AfCFTA. It’s not been an easy road, but it’s left to us the trade promotional organizations in the various countries to operationalize whatever the concept of the AfCFTA is, and we’re doing that.
“The headquarters can be in Ghana but does not necessarily mean that they roll everything at the feet of Ghana. I mean it’s for the whole Africa, so we should rather put in more effort…”Dr Afua Asabea Asare
Touching on progress made by exporters with respect to branding and packaging, Dr Asare highlighted that there’s been a “big improvement” in branding and packaging as a result of concerted effort by the Authority.
She revealed that GEPA ensured that branding and packaging which forms a very integral part of the whole export and trade system works.
“… That’s what we’re doing at our export school – bringing in experts from around the world who are knowledgeable in packaging and branding to help our exporters in branding and packaging their products with the right materials for the right products…”Dr Afua Asabea Asare
Currently, she highlighted that there are organizations springing up in Ghana in the business of packaging as well and producing very good packaging. This, she emphasized, is “snowballing” into a big industry, and is helping the semi-markets.