Denmark targets Africa for increasing exports

The trade minister thinks better advice and financing can boost exports to the rapidly-growing African economy

Denmark is lagging behind its European neighbours in taking advantage of strong economic growth on the African continent, according to Politiken newspaper.

Only about one percent of Danish exports go Africa, which is less than half the share of exports that countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden send to the continent.

And while Africa’s middle class has swollen to over 300 million people, the continent is also home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world.

According to the trade and investment minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr (Socialistisk Folkeparti), Denmark needs to improve its efforts to break into the African market.

“We need to be less scared of getting involved and better at taking advantage of Denmark’s good reputation in Africa and the large amount of developmental aid Denmark gives,” Dyhr told Politiken.

Dyhr hopes to double Danish exports to Africa over the next five years by creating partnerships with African businesses to create jobs and growth for both Africa and Denmark, particularly in the fields of  renewable energy, infrastructure and health care. To help Danish businesses increase their exports, the government is launching a new service to help exporters secure both financing and advice about local markets.

The combined service, which is being offered by the Eksport Kredit Fonden (EKF) and the Foreign Ministry’s trade council, Eksportrådet, will be available both in Denmark and seven key export countries around the world.

“Better access to financing will strengthen the opportunities of primarily small and medium sized businesses to increase their exports and create jobs in Denmark,” Dyhr said in a press release announcing the service. “Danish exporters need both competent export advice and access to money to help them realise their growth plans. We are now offering a one-stop-shop that can help them with both.”

In Africa, the services will be offered out of the Danish embassy in Kenya, where advice and financing information will be provided about both Kenya and South Africa.

PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) announced earlier in March that South Africa was a perfect target for Danish businesses wanting to increase their exports.

“We need to use our strong friendship to create a strong trade relationship that will benefit South Africans while also creating job in Denmark,” Thorning-Schmidt told Ritzau, adding that Denmark hopes to increase trade with South Africa by 50 percent over the next five years.