Exports Increase 6% on Jump in Oilseed Sales

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Addis Ababa, 5 August 2014 (WIC) - Ethiopian exports rose 5.8 percent to $3.3 billion in the year through July 7 partly due to an increase in oilseed revenue, the country’s second-largest source of export earnings.

The Horn of African nation earned $642.7 million from mainly sesame and niger seeds during Ethiopia’s fiscal year, rising 46 percent from 2012-2013, according to an e-mailed statement from the Trade Ministry, citing data from the Revenues and Customs Authority. Africa’s biggest coffee producer received $718.8 million from sales of the beans, down 3.7 percent from a year earlier, as volumes dropped 4.1 percent.

Ethiopia’s government is trying to attract investment into processing agricultural products and diversifying the economy, with a goal to earn $6.6 billion from farming exports and $1 billion from textile and garment sales by mid-2015. The World Bank in May gave the country $250 million to help develop export-led manufacturing zones and boost the business climate.

Textile and clothing sales climbed 13 percent to $111 million in a nation where retailers such as Tesco Plc (TSCO) and Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) have begun sourcing the materials, the ministry said. Earnings from shoe sales jumped 57 percent to $28.8 million, according to the data. China’s Huajian Group is among companies investing in shoe manufacturing in Ethiopia.

The value of gold exports declined 21 percent to $456.2 million in 2013-14, while the sale of the leafy narcotic khat rose 9.5 percent to $297.4 million and shipments of flowers jumped 7 percent to $199.7 million, the Trade Ministry said.

Sesame Sales

The country is the world’s fourth-biggest grower of sesame. Foreign currency earned from sales of the seeds to China has to be deposited at the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to secure loans from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Ethiopia’s trade deficit may widen to $8.9 billion in 2013-14 from $8.5 billion a year earlier due partly to the rising cost of imports for a government infrastructure program, the International Monetary Fund said in October.

The government should consider reducing the value of the currency by 10 percent in real terms, which may lead to a 5 percent increase in export earnings, the World Bank said last month. The government could also embark on policy changes to help boost the competitiveness of exporters, including easing “high” start up capital requirements, boosting electricity supplies and freeing up credit and foreign exchange, the Washington-based lender said. (Businessweek)