INTERVIEW: Ghana’s Improving Product Quality Key to Assessing International Markets – Stephen Normeshie, GM, GEPA

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As Ghana seeks to double export earnings of Non-Traditional Exports from the present US$2.5 billion to US$5 billion within the next five years, Stephen Normeshie the General Manager of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in this interview, highlights some positive steps taken to actualize the target, as well as points out some of the challenges that might stall its full realization within the estimated time frame

What is the Core Mandate of Ghana Export Promotion Authority: and how different or related are its operations to the Ministry of Trade, GIPC, and GCCI?

Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is the National Export Trade Support Institution established by Act 396 in 1969 as an agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry with the mandate to develop and promote Ghanaian exports. The Authority is the National Trade Promotion Organisation that facilitates Ghana’s trade in non-traditional exports.

The Ministry of Trade & Industry on the other hand, is the lead policy advisor to government on trade, industrial and private sector development with responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies for the promotion, growth and development of domestic and international trade.

While, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is a government agency established under Act 865to promote, coordinate and facilitate investments in the Ghanaian economy.

The Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is an association of business operators, firms and industries with interests spanning all the sectors of private enterprise in Ghana. As an advocacy organization, the GCCI was established with the prime objective of promoting industrial and commercial interest in the country. The Chamber represents the voice of the business community with total commitment to playing a leadership role towards propelling Ghana’s economy to higher heights.

What interventions have been put in place to increase exports from Ghana?
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority works closely with the Ghanaian private sector and exporting firms with the aim to facilitate their operations towards ensuring that the export sector grows, and returns from export revenue increase. Some of the interventions include the following:

Organizing training of exporters in quality, packaging & labelling, Standards and certification And Market entry strategies etc

Assisting exporters to participate in Trade missions , Trade fairs and exhibitions and also business forums and providing export coaching/advisory services on markets and products and linking exporters to sources of export financing such as banks and other lending agencies. One of the key institutions in this regard is the new EXIM Bank, with whom GEPA works closely.

A National Export Strategy has been put in place to further develop the export sector to increase Non-Traditional Export revenues from the present US$2.5 billion to US$5 billion within the next five years.

Beyond workshops organized to train exporters on requirements from the Western countries, what other programmes or solutions are provided to ensure that Exporters meet the requirements to export to countries such as USA etc.?
As far as conformity to standards and quality issues are concerned, GEPA collaborates closely with the regulatory agencies such as the GSA, the FDA, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Plant Protection & Regulatory Services Division (PPRSD)) to educate producers and exporters in areas such as Good Agricultural Practices, Good Manufacturing Practices, Product certification and compliance. This has greatly improved quality of products exported. However, a lot more remains to be done in this area.

Some of the specific GEPA interventions include the following:
Implementation of a Traceability system in collaboration with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division of MOFA to monitor and track export operations along the value chain. This is to ensure confidence in Ghana’s export sector.

Export regulatory bodies such as GSA, FRI, PPRSD have received equipment and technical support under the TRAQUE project to boost product quality testing before export.
Exporters are being sensitized to take advantage of various preferential market opportunities such as the AGOA, the EPA and the ETLS.S
What has been the impact of the interventions so far?

The quality of services being rendered by the certifying bodies mentioned above have improved considerably and this has inured to the benefit of Ghanaian exporters.
The knowledge of producers and exporters in the area of quality and standards has improved as well.

What was the value of Exports for 2016?
The NTE data for 2016 is yet to be released, however, exports of non-traditional products from January to December 2015 amounted to US$2.522 billion (GH¢9.210 billion) representing an increase of 0.32 per cent over the year 2014 (US$ 2.514 billion) (GH¢ 7.291billion).

The year 2014 however recorded an increase of 3.20 per cent over the total earnings of 2013 (US$2.436 billion (GH¢4.757 billion).

How relevant is the new government’s ‘one district one factory’ policy to Ghana’s exports, in view of the current challenges local manufacturers and businesses are facing?

Ghana needs to add value to its raw materials in order to increase export revenue. The products that are expected to be produced from the district level factories will be assessed and once they meet the required standards would be promoted on the international markets.

These efforts will result in more exports of made-in-Ghana products thereby having a positive impact on export earnings and thereby accelerating the achievement of the expected US$5 billion under the National Export Strategy.

What are the Challenges the GEPA is facing?
The main challenge facing GEPA at the moment is lack of financial resources to implement its programmes and activities to boost export.

What are your expectations for 2017?
To obtain a dedicated stream of funds to prosecute the export agenda and implement the ‘National Export Strategy’.

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