In a bid to address issues with the export sector and boosting the stagnated export trade, the Ethiopian government is to restructure the National Export Council, and will be led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.
Initially established as the National Export Coordinating Committee and later renamed the National Export Council, it comprises the National Bank of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Industry and Ethiopian Airlines. The council, which is chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, meets every six months to discuss the performance of the export sector. Prominent members of the council include Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), board chairman of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, Industrial Parks Development Corporation and vice board chairman of Ethiopian Airlines.
A senior government official told The Reporter that with a view to helping companies overcome problems in the export sector, the National Export Council would have six export sector committees – for coffee, oil seeds, minerals, leather, horticulture and meat. The official said that each export sector committee would meet every three months to deliberate on export performance and problems faced by each specific export sector. The meeting will be chaired by the PM.
So far, the council is made up of government officials and public institutions. According to the official, it has been now decided that export companies should be represented in the export council. “Representatives of export companies will join the council. Exporters from each sector will join the export sector committees. So far it was only the public officials that have been talking about the export sector. And tangible results could not be attained,” the official said. According to the senior official close to the matter, the series of meetings would add to the workload of the prime minister.
Ethiopia’s export trade under-performed in the last three years mainly due to the decline of commodity prices on the world market. According to the Ministry of Trade, in 2015-2016, the country exported USD 2.8 billion worth of products mainly coffee, gold, oil seeds and leather products. The export trade earning is less by 139 million dollars compared to the previous year (2014-2015).
Coffee, Ethiopia’s biggest currency earner, generated USD 722.4 million in 2015-2016 accounting for 33 percent of total export earnings. The country earned USD 310 million from the export of minerals (gold has the lion’s share), USD 262 million from khat, USD 115 million from leather, and USD 77 million from textile. The manufacturing sector fetched USD 344 million.
Studies indicate that in addition to the falling global commodity prices, logistical shortcomings in the country’s supply chain management is a major contributing factor for the declining export sector. A recent report published by the Ministry of Industry states that the lack of raw materials, inferior quality of products and raw materials and also the weak provision of services by public institutions all contribute to the poor performance of the manufacturing sector.