Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, has challenged the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) to take decisive action to deal with current difficulties in the export sector to enhance growth.

Speaking at a three-day retreat to strategise on effective service delivery for GEPA, Mr Ahenkorah said the many hindrances to exports in the country, including the multiplicity of inspection by various government bodies and a ban on vegetable and fruit exports to the EU, must be addressed expeditiously to boost exports.

“As I speak the EU has banned importation of vegetables and fruits to the EU. They have come twice to assess and we have lost and they are coming again in September,” the Deputy Minister said and urged GEPA to help curb the problem.

Mr Ahenkorah said the Ministry of Trade and Industry on its part had started pushing to get the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which was responsible for the agency checking the exports, to up their game because it was very demeaning for the country to have its exports returned.

“Very soon we will proactively get the problems resolved,” he said, adding that GEPA must use its authority to also stamp something out”.

The retreat, attended by senior management of GEPA and key strategic partners, seeks to initiate a consultative process on avenues of support from partners, development of an annual action plan, and redesigning of various value chains.

It also seeks to identify priorities and actions needed to enable the planning of a streamlined and cost effective service position for GEPA in the implementation of the National Export Strategy.

Mr Ahenkorah said GEPA must be able to stamp its authority on developments within the export sector.

He called on it to gather the facilitators of exports to come out with the challenges they have so that they could be addressed holistically.

He said exports was the only way to be able to reduce the balance of payment deficit that the country had been suffering overtime and also in helping reduce the pressure on the foreign exchange.

Mr Ahenkorah said government had identified certain policy guidelines to address the setback or shortfall and described the meeting as very timely.

On the National Export Strategy, Mr Ahenkorah said the Ministry was going to lead a discussion with stakeholders to see how it fits within government’s strategic plan.

He said the review would look at new developments such as the continental Free Trade area, AGOA, the Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme, the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Common External Tariff and how to position GEPA to be able to tap into the benefits of these programmes.

“To ensure that we maximise the gains, we would also look at the bilateral and multilateral agreements as well as the emerging markets,” he added.

He said the outcome would be dovetailed into the existing national strategic plan.

Ms Gifty Klenam, the Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, said beyond the international market challenges, local conditions were equally affecting GEPA’s drive to increase exports.

“Our supply base is seriously challenged so that we are not able to meet huge export orders,” she said. She said GEPA was adopting measures and strategic realignment to handle the challenges in the export sector.

Ms Klenam expressed the hope that retreat would come out with a clearly defined implementable strategy that would end Ghana the results required.

GNA