On the day the World Trade Day was marked in Port Harcourt zone, stakeholders were called upon to press upon the state governments in the south-south to take export matters seriously.
The states were asked to pick up the all-important police initiative known as One-State-One-Product (OSOP) and push the products or crops they chose into becoming major export products from their states.
Making the call at the World Trade Day marked at the Institute of International Trade and Development (IITD) at the University of Port Harcourt, the new zonal coordinator of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Ahmid Ganiyu, regretted that the state governors in the zone, especially Rivers State, have done exactly nothing about the policy since its inception in 2017.
Ganiyu said some other states have pushed to the extent of making their chosen products to become export products at this point. He gave Ogun State as an example.
Ganiyu was reacting to insinuations at the session that NEPC was not doing much to promote export and that the visit to London to know why Nigerian products were being rejected was not necessary.
He said: “It is not correct that the NEPC is not doing anything in promoting non-oil export. It is also not true that the visit of the leadership to the UK is not relevant. It is critical because that’s how to develop the processes needed by the Nigerian exporters to penetrate such markets and reduce rejection of export products in the receiving country.”
He told the audience that OSOP enables every state to select one or at most two products of comparative advantage to push into export.
He said NEPC Port Harcourt zone has submitted position paper on OSOP to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Rivers State so the incoming administration can decide where to start.
He impressed it upon the audience to understand that palm oil is the major product chosen in the state concerning One- State-One-Product Initiative, and that the State has not done anything since 2017 when it was launched.
Delivering a goodwill message later on the theme; ‘Trade as an Engine of growth and Development’, Ganiyu said the Nigerian Export Promotion Council as a federal Government agency responsible for the promotion and development of Non-Oil Export Trade in Nigeria has been working hard to realise the objective.
He went on: “It is interesting to note that since its establishment 47 years ago, the Council has promoted Made-in-Nigeria products ranging from manufactured, semi-processed agricultural and solid minerals in all the continents of the world.
“Suffice it to say that the Council has borne the cost by providing the following support services for participating exporters: Provision of free stands/booth at the Nigerian pavilion; air-freighting of stipulated quantity of product samples; and provision of interpreters where necessary.”
He mentioned activities so far embarked upon to include: The Nigerian Competitiveness Project: Go Global, Go for Certification Campaign, Export Rejects, The Domestic Export Warehouse, The National Conference on Non-Oil Export, Establishment of Export Trade Houses, and the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) Scheme.
Others were Clearance of Backlogs of 2021/2022 Claims, Capacity-Building of Exporters, Export Competency Development Programme (ECDP), Nigerian Sustainability Ginger Programme, NEPC/CBI Shea Export Development Project, and Exporters E-Registration.
Some others he mentioned were the Forum on State Committee on Export Promotion, NEPC Export Week/Export4Survival Walk, Women in Export, Youth Export Development Programme, and Non-Oil Export (Trade) Performance for 2022.
Ganiyu said it is cheering to note that despite the harsh economic environment precipitated by the effect of COVID-19 and the global economic recession, the sector recorded a significant and highly impressive result with a non-oil export earnings of $ 4.820 billion recorded for the year under review. This represented an increase of 39.91 per cent over 2021.
“These figures represent data collated from the various Pre-shipment Inspection Agents appointed by the Federal Government under the Pre-shipment Inspection Act, Cap P25 LFN 2004.
“I am glad to inform you that this result is the highest value ever achieved since the establishment of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council 47 years ago.
“This current result lends credence to the fact that the several export intervention programmes/projects initiated and executed by the Council and other sister-agencies during the year under review are gradually yielding the desired result.”
On the African Free Continental Free Trade Area-Guide Trade Initiative, the expert said NEPC is also currently encouraging Nigerian businesses, particularly the SMEs, to key into the AfCFTA initiative. “It is the single largest trade block in the world, approximately about 1.2 billion markets and of course, the GDP of over 3 trillion dollars.
“The main objectives of this event, therefore, is to kick start the process of preparing Nigerian exporters for businesses for onboarding on the AfCFTA- Guided Trade Initiatives.”
He said the urgent need to improve inter-African trade through the instrumentality of the African Free Continental Free Trade Area can therefore not be over-emphasized. The opening of the export trade houses in Cairo, Egypt, Lome, Togo and Nairobi, Kenya, by the NEPC non-oil promotion initiatives is aimed at boosting or promoting intra-African trade as well as increasing Nigeria’s presence and market share between the African continent.
“In line with the objectives of AfCFTA, please permit me to inform you that the 2022 non-oil performance report revealed that Nigeria exported 214 different products to 132 countries around the globe.”
However, he noted, no African country made it to the top 10 importers of Nigerian products.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen as an organization, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council is strategically positioned to assist in providing the right platform for Nigeria companies to gain access in major markets, especially in Africa.”
He assured the preparedness of NEPC to do everything within their mandate to persuade and convince Nigerians, especially the youths, to embark on non-oil export instead of ‘japa’. “We therefore urge all Nigerians to join us as we continue the Export4Survival campaign with a view to building a virile economy driven by the Non-oil Trade (export) sector.”