The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has targetted earning more than US$10billion in revenue from non-traditional exports by end of 2028, under its National Export Development Strategy programme.
The country’s Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) sector has grown from US$2million annually in the early 1980s to US$2.8billion in 2018. However, with the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) coming, GEPA wants to take advantage and roll out a project that will ensure the country derives maximum benefits from it – hence the Export Development Strategy.
Consequently, GEPA had hopes of realising US$3.6billion from Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) this year, but COVID-19 and its attendant restrictions have dashed hopes of meeting that target. Local producers and exporters are unable to send their products to foreign buyers because of the closure of borders, although that is not supposed to affect the movement of goods.
GEPA, when contacted on the impact of COVID-19 on NTEs, said it does expect NTE earnings to take a significant hit.
However, the fact remains that cashew – a leading contributor to NTEs revenue over the last few years -has seen its value plummet by more than 50 percent this year alone. The Chairman of the Ghana Corporative Cashew Farmers and Marketing Association says the inability of buyers, particularly from Asia, to come down and purchase the nuts has seen the price of the commodity take a nose-dive.
Furthermore, the once-burgeoning art and crafts sub-sector that employs about 10,000 hands according to the National Association of Handicraft Exporters, has been completely shut-down by the COVID-19 global lockdown.
The National Secretary of the Association, Erasmus Philip Ahorlu, laments that it will take at least a year to bounce back to normal after the pandemic. This proves that COVID-19’s economic impact is far-reaching and could derail all targets set by government. In terms of revenue generation, that is where the economy will receive it biggest hit – because commodities like crude oil have taken a massive slide in value, and all these could make meeting revenue targets an impossibility this fiscal year.
The lower than expected price for cashew, coupled with challenges in exporting other NTE products such as art and handicrafts, semi-processed and processed agriculture produce, among others, presents GEPA with a big task in achieving the US$3.6billion of exports set by the Authority.