Sierra Leone Investment and Promotion Agency (SLIPA) yesterday started a two day sensitization workshop at Archbishop Brosnahan memorial hall, Howe Street in Freetown on developing a National Export Strategy for Sierra Leone.
The essence of the workshop, explained Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/ Director of Export Henry Kamara, was to provide the road map to designing a National Export Strategy that will principally serve as a holistic national medium term plan to revamp the export sector in Sierra Leone.
Declaring the seminar open SLIPA Chairlady Gladys Strasser-King said participants’ at the seminar “will clearly demonstrate your commitment to help the agency get a better understanding and build capacity in export development and the linkages between export development and poverty reduction as it contributes to other social economic development…”
She explained that “this initiative will develop a road map for export development in Sierra Leone. It is forseen to last for about six to seven months culminating in the presentation of the road map at a symposium of national stakeholders to endorse the priorities recommended therein.
“The final recommendation will be made for a way forward which will include proceedings to the development of the whole National Export Strategy to Sierra Leone,” she said.
International Trade Centre (ITC), senior adviser in Export Strategy Design and Management who facilitated the seminar said, “we are living in very difficult times … the cycle of credit crunch has caused shock waves to go around the world emerging economies, United States, Europe are facing very difficult times and there is a great fear that the world is going to resort to protectionism as these countries try to address the domestic problems they have, but ITC’s mandate is export impact for good and we are the technical agency of the United Nations which works in developing countries to identify priorities to improve their competitiveness. The timing is absolutely right now because I believe that with the turmoil that is going there is a need to apply your minds to address your competitive priorities,” he said.
In recent years, Sierra Leone trade performance has lagged behind compared with the sister neighboring countries as a result of the civil conflict, although the country’s export trade performance appears to be improving, but it remains dominated by mineral products and a few basic agriculture commodities – cocoa and coffee etc. The agricultural products are facing stiff competition in the international market due to poor quality and the global credit crunch. This has made the country internationally uncompetitive. Currently, national productivity is low, especially in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors from which the majority of the population earns their livelihoods. Gains in productivity and competitiveness are needed for faster growth” he urged.