Government is preparing to meet fruit and vegetable exporters who may be negatively impacted as the United Kingdom (UK) prepares to implement the provisions of its exit from the European Union (Brexit).
Some banana exporters have told the B&FT the UK is likely to increase its import duty for fruit and vegetable exporters by as much as £95 per tonne. If the situation is not addressed, this may affect over 12,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ghana operating in the Non-Traditional Export industry, particularly fruit exporters.
The government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry is expected to meet the exporters to assuaged their fears.
In 2019, Ghana produced and exported 83,000 tonnes of bananas. According to a Competitor Analysis report released by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana exported close to US$33million worth of pineapples in 2018 –as compared to US$30.3 million and US$36.9 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Most of these exports made it into the U.K market.
Even though Ghana and the UK have reached a consensus on a new trade agreement to provide duty free and quota free access, as well as preferential tariff reductions for both countries— the two countries are yet to sign the deal. The situation has created an atmosphere of uncertainties among fruit and vegetable exporters in Ghana, painting a gloomy picture for their business in the future.
The Ghana-UK consensus was reached on the eve of the new year after a video conference between then Minister of Trade and Industry, now caretaker minister, Alan Kyerematen, and the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss, MP.
“Until the terms of the deal are made public, fruit exporters are unsure of the new tariffs that will be slapped on our exports as they enter the British market. This is because the UK market will be regulated under a new rule because of Brexit,” a leading exporter of Pineapple who wants to remain anonymous told the B&FT.
For the exporters, government must work behind the scenes immediately to get the UK government to sign a deal with Ghana to protect fruit and vegetable exporters who contribute to the country’s foreign earnings.
“We contribute a lot to the forex earnings of Ghana and I believe this is the time for the government through the Trade Ministry to step in to protect our businesses,”—the pineapple exporter said.
Ghana-UK trade consensus
The consensus according to the UK government provides the basis to replicate, the effects of the existing trade relationship between the UK and Ghana. It explained that the intention is for the agreement to provide duty free and quota free access for Ghana and the same preferential tariff reductions for British exporters as provided by the arrangement.
Ghana’s imports from United Kingdom was US$685.55 million in 2019, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. According to POLITICO, in 2019, the U.K.’s total trade with Ghana was worth £1.2 billion.
Ghana exported around 20 million pounds of bananas to the U.K. last year, about 40 percent of its total production. Roughly 45 percent of Ghana’s total exports to the U.K. last year were agri-food products.