Spare a thought for exporters from poor countries

In among the many problems caused by the decision not to fly in the ash-cloud, spare a thought for several very poor African countries who earn important foreign exchange by selling fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers to European markets and depend on air cargo to do so.

This evening here in Addis Ababa I bumped into the owner of one of the big flower-exporting businesses.  He was looking pensive.  Unseasonal rain had damaged part of his crop, and now he is unable to get his roses into European markets.  A whole container had had to be destroyed because there was nowhere for them to go.  On the back of an envelope, he calculated that the blockage of rose exports is costing Ethiopia about €200k a day. This may not sound very much but it is a big chunk of the export earnings of a poor nation.

2 comments on “Spare a thought for exporters from poor countries”

  1. Owen, are these companies insured? If so, then it’s not really them losing the money, right? And if not, why aren’t they?? Surely this is exactly the thing that one should insure for – an extremely rare but highly damaging event that contains no moral hazard.

  2. One of the UK television channels had a report from Kenya today on exactly this sad subject. A small Kenyan company exporting stunningly beautiful roses and other flowers was having to destroy almost all of them. And these small companies and entrepreneurs are liable to be ruined by a setback like this. (I have no idea what the insurance situation is: I wonder if these people could afford the premiums?)

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and