Ethiopia faces $1-bn shortfall in export revenues

May 31st, 2009 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS  

By Groum Abate
Addis Ababa, May 31 (IANS) Ethiopia’s export revenues are expected to fall short of the target by more than $1 billion this year, bucking the positive trends of the past few years, an official report has indicated.

Demand for Ethiopian goods has fallen on account of the global economic slowdown, while the nation’s biggest export product, coffee, has been affected by hoarding, the government has said.

In a report submitted to parliament’s standing committee, the trade and industry ministry said only 40 percent of the export target for the September 2008-August 2009 financial year has been earned.

Of the $2.56 billion targeted for the entire year, it earned $1.02 billion. This was 56 percent of the revenues targeted for the September-May period, the report said.

Unofficial estimates say going by the trend so far, export revenues would be around $1.33 billion for the whole year, short of last year’s figure by over $170 million.

In fact, Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru said the only realistic goal he saw for the export sector was to try and match last fiscal’s revenues.

Admitting that it had failed to look for new markets after regular buyers cancelled orders, the government said it was now taking measures such as exempting exporters from power shedding to bail them out.

“For exporters with confirmed export orders in May and June, power will be given without any interruption,” Birru said.

Coffee has fetched $251 million till now - about 54 percent lower than what was forecast earlier. This, according to the ministry, was on account of hoarding by exporters who were waiting for prices to rise and also derail the newly-established Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

The licences of six exporters have been revoked, while some are being prosecuted.

Over $229 million was earned from oilseed exports, while the narcotic khat crop accounted for about $102 million.

Mineral exports have shown a slight increase, fetching over $68 million compared to $64.4 million in the corresponding period last year.

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