01 March 2021 – Ghana’s wood product exports to member countries in the newly operational African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are expected to double, according to the Timber Industry Development Division of the Ghana Forestry Commission.
Currently, Ghana’s exports to African markets, especially to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries, are mainly sawnwood, veneer and plywood.
According to the Tropical Timber Market Report there has been a steady decline in Ghana’s wood product exports to African countries. The downtrend between 2012 and 2017 could be attributed to product availability and pricing. Exports to African countries started to pick up in 2018 when there was a 10% year-on-year rise and in 2019 the trend higher continued with an 11% year on year rise followed by a 13% uptick in 2020.
With a single market of 1.4 billion people along with rising disposable incomes in AfCFTA countries, it is anticipated the easing of trade rules will promote more intra-Africa trade beyond ECOWAS and this will increase Ghana’s market penetration to the rest of the continent. Exports to African markets are currently third placed to those to Asia and Europe, the leading importers of Ghana’s wood products.
Dealing with Covid-19
Last week Ghana became the first country in Africa to receive Covid-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility when it took delivery of 600 000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine manufactured in India. At the beginning of February, the Ghana Heath Service reported that all the sixteen regions have active cases. Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, said that his government would procure about 17.6 million vaccine doses as an initial target.
Covid-19 tests are now free for all Ghanaians at public health institutions and those tested positive can benefit from the cost-free isolation and treatment.
National Development Bank on track
Meanwhile in another development the Ministry of Finance in Ghana has disclosed that USD50-million has been released towards the establishment of the National Development Bank. The bank is expected to be capitalised with USD1-billion of which the government has committed USD250-million. The concept of a development bank has been the dream of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) as it is seen as a way to better support the local manufacturing industries in all sectors of the economy. Local industries needed capital injections at manageable interest rates to ensure they are competitive globally. According to a study by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), studies suggest that the limited availability and high cost of credit constitute the single largest constraint to private sector operations. The establishment of a National Development bank under the Ghana Cares Programme in the 2020 budget was expected to provide support to businesses.
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