Stakeholders canvass trade-for-aid policy to boost export capacity
To further boost Nigeria’s export potential and promote locally manufactured goods, stakeholders within the export sector have tasked government on the need to review it foreign aid policy to boost non-oil exports.
Indeed, the move, according to the stakeholders, would demand the Federal Government giving out made-in-Nigeria products rather than cash to countries that are getting assistance from Nigeria.
According to them, many developed countries are already implementing the policy as their products and services constitute the foreign aid to many regions.
Furthermore, they emphasized the need for collaborations in facilitating and implementing strategies that will boost manufacturing exports in the country.
Precisely, some of the strategies include how the potential in quality certification and various incentives like the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) could be properly harnessed to boost export activities in the country and the region.
The stakeholders were drawn from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and exporters among others.
To this end, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has called on the awardees of the Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) to take advantage of the quality certification to boost the export potential of their products.
Making the call in Lagos yesterday at an export business roundtable organized for NIS certified manufacturers, the Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo noted that despite the challenges encountered by some manufacturers who export, their companies are making a mark in international markets.
“I wish to emphasize that this event has been organised with the aim of bringing together reputable companies that had won the NIS certification mark with a view to ensuring that they participate in export business to maximize their potentials,” he said.
He stated that it was also part of the agency’s strategy of re-iterating the need to diversify our dependence on oil to non-oil in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda.
Awolowo, who was represented by the agency’s Director of Product Development, Henry Otowo, stressed that the roundtable had become necessary as a result of the huge export potential of Nigerian manufactured products as revealed by the recent NEPC sponsored exhibitions held in Lome (Togo), Accra (Ghana) and Niamey (Niger).
“The feedback from our participation at fairs staged in three countries of the West African region in the last quarter of 2013 showed high levels of on-the-spot sales, which is an indication of the appreciable acceptance of Nigerian products by consumers,” he revealed.
He disclosed that NEPC has capacity building initiatives meant to upgrade the technical skills of potential exporters such as the Export Skills Acquisition Programme (ESAP) designed for beginners in the export business.
“Furthermore NEPC in collaboration with MAN Export Group (MANEG) has established an export house known as NEXPOTRADE in Liberia, to strengthen market penetration of Nigerian products as the export houses guarantee continuous supply in the host countries. It is hoped that this novel endeavor will overcome its present hiccups and achieve the objectives for its setting up,” he said.
In his presentation, Chairman MANEG, Tunde Oyelola, noted that there is an urgent need to execute a concerted and coordinated approach to manufacturing export development in Nigeria and also made recommendations to government and its MDAs that could boost manufacturing exports.
“Government should support manufacturing exports in her foreign aid policy by giving out made in Nigeria products rather than cash to countries that are getting assistance from Nigeria. This policy is already being implemented by many developed countries as their products and services constitute their foreign aid,” he said.
He urged the government not to relent on its efforts to ensure effective administration of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) since that is the only functional incentive exporters rely on to cushion the effects of high cost of production in order to remain competitive in the export market.
“We still recommend that government rather than embark on frequent review of the scheme should work out a mechanism that ensures effective administration of the scheme. This will eliminate high level of uncertainty facing the scheme and re-establish exporters’ confidence on the scheme,” he said.
Director-General of SON, Joseph Odumodu represented by the agency’s Head of Product Certification, Abiola Komolafe, stated that the manufacturing sector remains the driver for attaining economic growth.
“Standardization is a catalyst that stimulates quality, consumer confidence and competitiveness and it remains the viable tool to launch Nigeria’s products into the global market,” he said.
Also addressing the NIS awardees, the Lagos State Commissioner of Commerce and Industry Olusola Oworu, who was represented by the Director of Commerce in the ministry, Hakeem Adedeji, noted that the event was appropriate at this time because of the growing number of entrepreneurs with the goal of export.
She advised the NIS awardees to sustain the standards and challenged others to raise the quality of their products in order to qualify for the award.