Non-oil export key to economic development, growth, says Bello
Export of non-oil products on a sustainable basis is key to Nigeria’s economic development, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello, has said.
According to Bello, if adequately harnessed, non-oil export is capable of strengthening Nigeria’s economy and “provide numerous jobs in the process”.In a chat with The Guardian, Bello described ongoing construction of Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in some parts of the country as a major “step towards Nigeria’s economic development”.
Bello also challenged stakeholders to put in place world-class infrastructure, noting that the time has come for Nigeria to give adequate priority to export.
According to Bello, export if adequately harnessed can create numerous jobs, generate revenue and improve the larger economy.Bello also used the opportunity to appeal to promoters of ICDs across the country to adhere strictly to specified rules and regulations in the interest of all stakeholders.
Making reference to the proposed Funtua’s ICD, Bello said he recently met with the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari to discuss modalities for the project.
He also urged individuals and farmers along the axis to take advantage of the proposed initiative to lift economic growth on a sustainable basis.Bello said: “It is important to know that the ports are also targets for exports and it has come to that stage where Nigeria must export”
He advised state governments where ICDs are located to double their efforts to make sure that “this very important transport infrastructure becomes operational”.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to Masari, Bello said siting of ICD in Funtua was not accidental, adding that the untapped tremendous agricultural export potentials of Katsina State were a natural attraction.
Bello said: “It is believed that with a world class facility to be put in place by the concessionaires, Katsina State will be the northern hub in export consolidation and logistics”.
He added: “In addition, proximity to the neighbouring landlocked Niger Republic is another factor for the success of the Funtua Dry Port.“The multiplier effect of this project in boosting economic activities, employment, internally generated revenue to the people and government of Katsina State and its environs cannot be overemphasized.”
“The Truck Transit Park project is a modern, state of the art and common user facility designed to provide temporary rest location where truck drivers can conveniently park their vehicles off the highway in a healthy environment,” said Bello.
According to Bello, increase in the nation’s export potential would in the long run push down the reported high cost of shipping in this part of the world.
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have recently blamed high cost of shipping in African countries on low export volume within the continent.Speaking at a forum in Lagos, they explained that the development is detrimental to intra-regional trade and economic development.
They explained that the design and location of ports in African countries do not make room for export trade, “whereas in Western states ports are designed purposely for exports”.According to the stakeholders, there are no direct trade routes amongst African countries, pointing out that 90 per cent of income in African countries goes into the funding of imports.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the forum held in Lagos, the stakeholders lamented that export tariff within the continent are ambiguous and complex, “therefore are not easily understood by exporters”.
Explaining further, the communiqué blamed policy inconsistency and overt dependence on road transportation as major obstacles to export trade in Africa.It explained that undocumented export trade is the reason for inaccuracy in export data, adding that it adversely affects funding by commercial banks.
The participants explained that lack of concessioning of port railway system also affects adversely export trade.Pointing the way forward, the communiqué explained that to drive export trade in African effectively, nations should have goods to export, means of transport, Ports for ships/cargo interface, adequate transport logistics services and infrastructure.
Other terms identified by the forum include:
*Terms of trade governing the contractual agreement between the seller and the buyer must be spelt out.
It advocated financial system that supports export trade “to allow easy transfer of funds and robust insurance/export guarantee scheme”.
According to the communiqué, other factors include:
*International standards for the goods to be accepted at International markets;
*Efficient regulatory standards to monitor and compel compliance;
*Sensitize and establish proper economic policies to encourage local manufacturers;
*Integrated planning including the provision of rail systems should be part of the criteria for the approval of new ports to avoid the mistakes of the past;
*Littoral countries should not neglect trade opportunities offered by their neighbouring landlocked countries;
*Nigeria should have trade representatives in various countries to drive the process of trade with her trade partners, as this will go a long way to improve standards;
*Export tariffs should be simplified for easy understanding;
*In subscribing to International conventions, African countries should ensure that indigenous exporters are protected;
*Government should provide an effective regulatory climate that ensures quality control as the cornerstone of the production of indigenous goods and services; *Government should engage the private sector during and not after the formulation of policies to ensure sustenance;
*Adopt an integrated planning approach for policy formulation and implementation;
*Ports should be designed and built to handle export trade;
*African countries should build trust with one another to enhance business relationship;
*African countries should reduce export of raw materials. Rather they should add value to their products to generate more foreign exchange and create jobs for the teeming population;
*In order to strengthen the value of the naira, Nigeria must produce and export because there is an extent to which naira value can be defended;
*Adequate infrastructure should be provided to promote trade facilitation;
*The basic thrust of economic policies should be to promote strategies and a roadmap that would promote exports;
*Invest in Agriculture and Manufacturing;
*Provide the infrastructure that will ensure maximum yield, efficient and adequate storage systems for agricultural products;
*Invest in processing of produce in secondary and tertiary state to optimize value and earnings;
*The establishment of trade routes within Africa should be given urgent attention;
*The integrity of pipeline systems should be restored and rail corridors leading to and fro the ports should be concessioned;
*Reservation of road corridors on port access areas is necessary for future port expansion;
*Adequate revolving loan policy for the upgrade and renewal of trucks should be put in place as a matter of urgency;
*Private sector should drive and fund advocacy programmes;
*There should consistency in policy formulation and implementation so as to assist organizations and individuals undertake long term planning;
*The use of Information Communication technology to achieve the automation of management processes should be prioritized;
*Exporters should take advantage of the opportunity offered by Free Trade Zones (FTZ) to reduce their cost of production and
*Funding by banks should be product and sector specific at very low interest. Government needs to work with banks to earmark the areas of trade requiring such funding.