For the last five years (2017 to 2021) Ghana’s non-traditional exports grew at an annual average rate of 7.07 per cent and contributed 22.62 per cent to the total national merchandise exports of Ghana in 2021.
Mr Isaac Tersiah Ackwerh, Branch Manager of Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), made this known at a seminar organised for importers, exporters, bankers and other stakeholders in Ghana’s international trade in the Upper West Region.
It was to help address the challenges posed by the implementation of the Bank of Ghana (BOG) Letter of Commitment for the repatriation of export proceeds to businesses.
He said following the introduction of the BOG’s Letter of Commitment (LOC) for the repatriation of export proceeds in 2016, the Ghana Shippers Authority received several complaints from exporters and some customs house agents on the challenges its implementation was posing on their export businesses.
Engagements with exporters brought to the fore concerns such as inadequate time allocated to the repatriation of export proceeds, blocking of subsequent export transactions for non-repatriation of proceeds beyond 60 days and delays in accessing repatriated proceeds from commercial banks.
Low exchange rates offered by the banks compared with rates applied by shipping service providers, high commission charged by commercial banks and the unsuitability of the current form of the LOC for small scale cross border trade were also mentioned as challenges affecting their businesses.
Mr Ackwerh said exporters of perishable commodities by air had also complained about the quality of their consignments getting compromised due to delays associated with addressing LOC issues prior to shipment.
It was upon these complaints that the GSA had to intervene by creating platforms in the various regions for the BOG officials to provide information and sensitise exporters on the LOC to boost awareness since 2018.
He said the GSA had since been collaborating with the BOG to facilitate this educational programme to boost awareness on the procedures involved, promote compliance as well as identify and collate challenges associated with its implementation to help improve the process.
Mr Ackwerh mentioned that the chunk of Ghana’s non-traditional exports, such as horticultural products, fish, foods and beverages, baskets, shea butter, and handicrafts exported from Ghana originates from Ghana’s middle belt and parts of northern Ghana with the Upper West Region well noted for handicrafts, smocks, shea butter and its related products.
He said the participants were expected to appreciate the rudiments of the subject of the LOC, understand its benefits to exporters and have their concerns addressed at the end of the seminar.