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Ethiopia to accelerate export trade amid soaring earnings

Ethiopia’s export earnings shot up by 25 per cent to hit US$ 1.5 billion, up from US$ 1.2 billion last year, as Prime Minister Me l es Zenawi launched a plan to accelerate the country’s export produce in the worl d market.

Ethiopian exports, mainly coffee, oil seeds, cut flowers, leather and leather pr oducts, helped to bring in additional foreign currency into the country, account i ng for more than 80 per cent of the country’s export earnings, Trade and Industr y Minister Girma Birru said.

Prime Minister Zenawi said the country’s focus was to improve its export produce , both in quality and quantity to give the country’s agricultural produce a bett e r footing in the globally competitive market.

The Ethiopian government plans to help boost the country’s exports by creating m ore investor-friendly regulations to help attract more players into the export t r ade.

“We are expected to pay particular attention to quality and productivity to sust ain the export trade at the same rate and successfully penetrate the world marke t ,” the Ethiopian Prime Minister said at a ceremony to fete exporters here over t h e weekend.

Ethiopia’s export earnings have been rising over the last five years.

Ethiopian officials say the 25 per cent surge in export earnings, coming against a backdrop of stricter regulations in the global trade on grain as a result of e scalating global food prices, was a major achievement.

“Achieving such an excellent performance at a time when export bans were imposed on the export of cereals beginning January 2005/2006 following high food prices and the cost of living, is indeed an encouraging result,” the Ethiopian Herald q u oted Birru as saying.

The Ethiopian government has awarded some 39 exporters and four supplementary in dustries trophies for their efforts in helping to improve the quality of exports .

Meanwhile, Zenawi has called for accelerated plans to have the East African nati on to officially become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

According to him, the country has been getting poor treatment from its external trade partners as a result of its position as a non-WTO member.

Ethiopia has been exploring modalities of joining the global trade body, but a r aft of reforms demanded by the WTO, including total liberalization of the bankin g industry, has made the process an uphill task for the Ethiopian government.

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