Ethiopian gov’t to boost exports after record earnings

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Ethiopia’s export earnings shot up by 25 per cent to hit US$ 1.5 billion, up from US$ 1.2 billion last year, as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi launched a plan to accelerate the country’s export produce in the world market.

Ethiopian exports, mainly coffee, oil seeds, cut flowers, leather and leather products, helped to bring in additional foreign currency into the country, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the country’s export earnings, Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru said.

Prime Minister Zenawi said the country’s focus was to improve its export produce, both in quality and quantity to give the country’s agricultural produce a better footing in the globally competitive market.

The Ethiopian government plans to help boost the country’s exports by creating more investor-friendly regulations to help attract more players into the export trade.

“We are expected to pay particular attention to quality and productivity to sustain the export trade at the same rate and successfully penetrate the world market,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister said at a ceremony to fete exporters over the weekend.

Ethiopia’s export earnings have been rising over the last five years.

Ethiopian officials say the 25 per cent surge in export earnings, coming against a backdrop of stricter regulations in the global trade on grain as a result of escalating global food prices, was a major achievement.

“Achieving such an excellent performance at a time when export bans were imposed on the export of cereals beginning January 2005/2006 following high food prices and the cost of living, is indeed an encouraging result,” the Ethiopian Herald quoted Birru as saying.

The Ethiopian government has awarded some 39 exporters and four supplementary industries trophies for their efforts in helping to improve the quality of exports.

Meanwhile, Zenawi has called for accelerated plans to have the East African nation to officially become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

According to him, the country has been getting poor treatment from its external trade partners as a result of its position as a non-WTO member.

Ethiopia has been exploring modalities of joining the global trade body, but a raft of reforms demanded by the WTO, including total liberalization of the banking industry, has made the process an uphill task for the Ethiopian government.

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