by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- 2017 food import bill was EC$211.2 million
- Import bill $1.5 billion in 2018
- 6 priority sectors identified with potential to increase exports
Grenada’s import bill hit an all-time high of $1.5 billion in 2018 while exports remained relatively low. This has prompted government to tackle this negative trade balance head on through the development of an updated National Export Strategy (NES) launched in 2017 to be implemented by 2020 in order to increase exports in regional and international markets. The government solicited the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat which on Wednesday presented a report identifying products and new market opportunities that the private sector can capitalise on.
In 2017, Grenada’s food import bill was EC$211.2 million. As a result, the Ministry of Trade and key sectors including business, professional services, tourism, and agriculture attended a stakeholder consultation spearheaded by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Hon. Oliver Joseph, Minister for Economic Development, Planning, Trade and Cooperatives in addressing attendees at the stakeholder consultation said it is imperative that Grenada reduces its high import bill. “We had a negative trade imbalance and last year it was $1.05 billion. It means that we imported $1.05 billion more than we exported and therefore we need to address that.”
During the stakeholder consultation, a study conducted by independent consultant Dr Pritish Sahu, identified 19 new products which have export potential into global markets. Some of these products include yellowfin tuna and other fish products, and edible fruits. This study was commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Trade Advisor for the Commonwealth Secretariat, Olayinka Bandele explained how this analysis will assist the private sector in Grenada to access regional and international markets. “Those marketing plans will show exporters which market they should be targeting their niche products and what are the interests in that market. Take Brazil, for example, that’s importing wheat products, then how can Grenada enter that market aside from any non-tariff barrier issues.”
That list of products will be narrowed down to around 12 or 15 products based on stakeholder feedback, after which a report backed by marketing strategy will be drafted and presented by the Commonwealth Secretariat to Grenada. A final report will be made available to inform the private sector on how to access these potential global markets.
“That will help us come back to Grenada later on in the year, probably April or May to discuss the marketing plans and look at the details of those marketing plans, and once we have that pinned down, we will produce one report that will include the new products and market analysis backed with the marketing plans that will be shared with the Ministry. Then we will get feedback, tighten that up and finally the report can be released and then it is over to the Grenada exporters to start to make use of this practical tool,” said Bandele.
Prior to the completion of the National Export Strategy, 6 priority sectors that have the potential to increase exports were identified, during extensive stakeholder consultation: Agriculture and Fisheries, Creative Industries, Health and Wellness, Maritime and Yachting Services, Tourism; and Professional Services.