Ethiopian Exports Surged 38% in July as Coffee Shipments Jumped

By William Davison, Bloomberg

Exports from Ethiopia, Africa’s biggest coffee producer, surged 38 percent in the year through July 7 as shipments of the beans jumped, the Trade Ministry said.

Total exports amounted to $2.8 billion in the period, the ministry said in a statement released yesterday in Addis Ababa, the capital.

Coffee was the Horn of Africa nation’s biggest revenue earner, raising $841.7 million from 196,118 metric tons of beans shipped. Last year, the country exported 172,210 tons for $528.2 million, the ministry said. The increase was driven by a 40 percent rise in global coffee prices in the period, Helaway Tadesse, vice president at Zemen Bank in Addis Ababa, said in an e-mailed response to questions today.

Gold shipments increased by 75 percent, bringing in $485.3 million from 11 tons of the precious metal.

“Based on the direction of gold prices, and various prospecting projects in the pipeline, mining exports could in a couple years time eclipse coffee and other agricultural products as Ethiopia’s primary exports,” Helaway said.

The third-largest earner was oil seeds, though the 323.9 million earned was a drop of 9.5 percent from the previous year, according the Trade Ministry. The narcotic leaf qhat, which is popular in neighboring Somalia and Yemen, saw a 14 percent increase in revenue, earning $238.4 million from shipments of 50,000 tons.

While Ethiopia’s exports are still an “unusually low” 8 percent of gross domestic product, the performance was “very strong and one which played a key part in removing foreign exchange shortages within the banking system last past year,” Helaway said.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.