THE GOVERNMENT has set out to significantly increase exports volumes and receipts in the short to medium-term. To help achieve that, this week, it entered a performance contract with exporters.
The exports deal with the private sector will see government set up an exports guarantee fund to help small and medium scale firms access loans and also to ensure availability of infrastructure needed for the sector such as cold chain facilities for horticulture produce.
The guarantee fund will enable exporters to acquire loans from banks to expand and improve their operations with government as the guarantor.
The government’s projection for exports is that the sector would grow by 7 per cent in value terms this year, rising from $703 million in 2013 to $751 million in 2014. The government also targets a 28 per cent annual exports growth rate under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy. The sector is currently expanding at 12 per cent, but can do even better.
With the exports guarantee fund and raft of measures government has promised to put in place, the private sector has the ball in their court. It’s cardinal upon the private sector to show commitment in this venture to ensure that trade gap is significantly cut.
The usual chorus that we were accustomed to as the private sector bemoans lack of government support in their ventures can now be rested. Like the Minister for Trade and Industry said, government has showed that it is going beyond statements and speeches and working toward results.
The government has committed to giving all the support needed and ensure a conducive business environment that will promote value-addition and exports diversification.
The country’s total trade is in deficit, currently, but with the new support from government, there is no room for the same trend. The measly 0.4 per cent total trade growth in the first quarter of 2014 that has seen a 19 per cent trade deficit should be a thing of the past.
Exporters should play their part to set the pace in foreign markets.