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Nigeria’s exports hit $6.99 billion as experts strategise to boost trade

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Nigeria’s export value to African countries, pushed beyond $6.99 billion in 2018, while the rest of the world totalled $45.92 billion during the same period.

The Chief Executive/Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo, disclosed this while speaking at the Ecobank Digital Series virtual meeting on Africa Trade Conference 2020.
He noted that with market size of 1.2 billion people, and combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3 trillion, there is huge potential for Nigeria to increase its export to Africa.

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However, he said Nigeria’s export is majorly crude oil and natural gas, which constitute 91 per cent.

Awolowo said, using the International Trade Centre export’s tool, NEPC has identified areas of untapped potential for Nigeria in Africa, such as fertilizer, ginger, and sesame,

“Nigeria must, and can, live in a world where it no longer sells oil. Nigeria is working on key game changers in infrastructure to achieve this, especially in the area of ease of transportation and incentives, export expansion grants like pre-shipment incentives, and export development funds, which serve to prepare, facilitate and support exporters to the global market.”

Speaking on “International trade, the pan African perspective,” Commissioner, Trade, Customs, and Free Movement, ECOWAS, Tei Konzi, represented by the Acting Director, Trade, ECOWAS, Kolawole Sofola, said 85 per cent of Nigerian products are moved outside the continent, stressing the need to change the narrative.

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“We can bring this trade back to Africa and increase activity in the continent in agriculture, mining amongst others. We are yet to conclude our tariffs, but at the moment, ECOWAS trade more with outside countries than it does with African countries, and this is why we are bent on making sure the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA ) succeeds.”

He explained that AfCFTA is a comprehensive trade agreement that seeks to create a single market for goods and services and free movement of persons through the progressive liberation of the market for goods and services and also contribute to the movement of capital to facilitate investment. He said it is meant to be the foundation of continental customs union at a later stage.

In his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Ade Ayeyemi, reiterated that African countries must adopt a continent-wide approach to business, and also focus on wealth creation to be relevant in the global value chain.

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According to Ayeyemi for the AfCFTA to become a reality, there must be commitment and readiness for trade facilitation by the individual nations.

He said African governments must unequivocal commit to the agreement, and their preparedness as individual nations with their implementation strategies, commitment to free movement – signing and ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people and country’s Visa openness, readiness for trade facilitation – the quality of trade infrastructure, and efficiency of ports/Customs, which is still a work in progress in nearly all countries.

Ayeyemi noted that Ecobank is fully committed to Africa, as the foremost Pan-African Bank and unequivocal support for the implementation of AfCFTA, readiness to use its pan-African platform to facilitate trade, payment, and business, as well as the deployment of its strong Africa knowledge to support governments and businesses.

“No country is so poor that it has nothing to give and no country is so rich that it has nothing to receive. All of us must come together to become better.”

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