NEPC, states rejig strategy to boost non-oil exports
To boost non-oil exports from the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in collaboration with state governments, has concluded plans to review export strategies, especially in the area of standardisation and capacity development. Indeed, with a decline in the nation’s revenue profile from non-oil exports in 2014, the NEPC expressed concerns on the need to boost revenue by exploring commodities with competitive export potential in the states.
Specifically, the NEPC attributed the drop in the non-oil export market in the country from N2.9 billion to N2.7 billion in 2014, to insurgency in the north-east, adding that the situation has really affected non-oil export growth in the nation.
The Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Segun Awolowo explained that the partnership move by the council with state governments was to seek ways to boost non-oil export and replacing the country’s primary source of income with non-oil exports. The NEPC boss during the opening ceremony of “Integrated workshop on techniques of non-oil export project formulation for State export committees and city chambers, in Lagos, yesterday, noted that the federal government had prepared for the dwindling oil price through the Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) to industrialise the Nigerian economy, saying that no country can survive by exporting raw materials to other countries.
“By exporting raw materials, you create employment for other countries. The NIRP was launched before the crash in oil prices. We have state export committees in every state and we are developing a programme called one state, one product to share our perception and get their feed back on the way forward to develop the products of each state. “We have one state one product that we are going to launch working with each state governments to identify their products.
We also have 13 strategic export committees that we know when we push them, we will be able to replace oil in terms of generating foreign exchange for the country.” According to him, these 13 export committees have been divided into agro and industrial, to develop cocoa, rubber, palm oil and other commodities in which Nigeria has comparative advantage. “We also have cement which is a success story for this country. Last year, through the NEPC, Dangote exported cement for the first time, rice is another commodity we are working on with the federalgovernment through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) to produce more to meet the demand of the local market and discourage importation to save our hard earned foreign exchange,” he stressed.
He said Nigeria went into Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) without a strategy, but added that the NEPC has developed a strategy for AGOA, maintaining that going forward, NEPC is looking at a situation where made-in-Nigeria products will no longer depend on AGOA to export its products to the world. “We are not looking at AGOA because we want our goods to be competitive.
We do not want to be subject to free duty anymore. We want a situation where will pay duty because our products are competitive. We are working on a zero oil policy with the ministry of agriculture, working to assume we have no oil and this is what the federal government is focusing on,” he said. “We also have issues of standards.
Those were the challenges we had, but this workshop is the resolution to move beyond. We are praying and hoping that we will be able to convince the Central Bank of Nigeria to fund our export development councils because this is the only we can develop the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to move into export,” he added. Also speaking at the event, the permanent secretary, ministry of commerce and industry, Lagos State Export Promotion Committee, Mrs. Abimbola Umar said the workshop is aimed at recognising the straategic position of greatly enhancing non-oil export activities especially in the era of dwindling revenue from crude oil exports which has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
She added that beyond the capacity building workshop for committees on export promotion in the States, launch of the one State, one product development, her expectation is for NEPC to also come up with a programme llike accelerated programme for export development that would place promotion of non-oil exports in the front burner of national discourse. “The various State committees should be used as the implementation arm of such programme, while NEPC serves as the coordinating centre,” she advised.
She noted that given the enormous potentials in the non-oil export, expectations from the federal government to give export promotion the required attention in order to give an effective cuhion to the economy which is presently vulnerable. The President, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Emeka Ogochuwu said the workshop will help Nigeria to find other means to earn foreign exchange boosting non-oil export activities. “We are not here to play because everybody knows the reality on ground.
Nigeria is in trouble and the oil price is falling everyday and there are projections that it is going to slide down more. We have to find other ways to earn foreign exchange for the economy. We have come here with two products where the state has competitive advantage, he said. Representative from the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Sunny Nwachuku said the essence of launching one state one product was to support the economy of the nation with respect to non-oil export, stressing that non-oil export is the way forward to get the economy in the right track. “A situation where state showcases a product or more where they have comparative advantage is the key to economic growth of the country,”he added.
The State Chairman, Abia State Chapter, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Donlop Okoro stated that the workshop is very apt because it is the right time to diversify the nation’s economy from oil. He said the involvement of the farmers into the initiative shows that the NEPC identifies the basic place to run to as a dependable source of income for the economy is agriculture.