Exporters need long-term financing

The General Manager of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Mr Stephen Normeshie, has appealed to banks and other financial institutions to extend long-term financing to exporters to enable them to make meaningful impact on their businesses.

Mr Normeshie, who was speaking in Accra, said although several banks in the country had dedicated funds to support export businesses, most of the funds were short term, and not the medium- to long-term financing the exporters desired.

“There are other banks that are turning to exports and are collaborating with the GEPA to support exporters. But the only challenge is that they are not ready to give them long-term support, especially for the agricultural sector,”he said.

He explained that exporters of mango, for instance, waited between four and five years for the plants to bear fruits, but bank financing was not that patient, saying: “This is the only thing which is not happening, but we are engaging the banks to consider this.”

The GEPA general manager made the remarks when he received a cheque for GH¢12,000 from Fidelity Bank Ghana Ltd to support the 24th National Awards for Exports Achievement, slated for October 18.

The money, which will go to sponsor the Woman Exporter of the Year for 2013, is part of the bank’s contributions towards growing the export sector, which is necessary for ending the country’s foreign exchange challenges.

Mr Normeshie said the country held a lot of export potential which resources should be marshalled to unlock, adding that finance and exports went hand-in hand, but most exporters found it difficult to access credit, the reason the intervention by Fidelity Bank and other financial institutions was important.

The bank’s Executive Director, Wholesale Banking, Mr Alex Dodoo, who led a five-member team to present the cheque to GEPA, said the export authority’s role was very critical in helping to transform the economy from import dependent to export-led and that the bank would lend its support.

Fidelity Bank has been supporting exporters in the country, especially non-traditional exporters (NTEs), since its inception about seven years ago. This year, the bank partnered GEPA to organise roadshows on how to access finance to expand their operations and both parties are upbeat about the outlook.

The country has a national strategy to reach US$5 billion from non-traditional exports by 2017, which GEPA is implementing with the support of the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF).

The bank, in collaboration with the GEPA and EDAIF, also organised the Exporters Summit in Accra in June to sensitise exporters to details of export finance packages from the bank which the exporters could leverage.

The package includes a Fidelity Export Bonus Account, which attracts no cost of transaction, comes with a free cheque book, as well as the use of concessionary exchange rate to convert export earnings into cedis.

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