• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Experts urge port agencies to shift focus to trade facilitation

Rising cost push manufacturing exports down 62% in 4 years

Experts in the agricultural sector have urged various agencies operating at the country’s ports to shift their focus to other core functions and not just on revenue generation for the government to boost non-oil exports.

The experts who spoke at the 2023 National Policy Dialogue on Non-oil Export said apart from generating revenue, the agencies are supposed to promote trade as it is done all over the world to boost export and address some of the challenges hindering non-oil export.

They noted that there are duplications of functions among the agencies that have continued to deter exports.

“We’re all driven by revenue. The need to generate tax for the federal government. So agencies are working across purposes to satisfy their immediate revenue needs and not serving the long-term solutions that Nigeria needs,” said Sola Obabori, former country director of FEDEX Redstar Nigeria.

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“There are too many government regulators. We have the DSS, anti-bomb squad, NDLEA, and Quarantine Services, and everyone is trying to ensure they also put a stamp. Then, all of these things are not happening for free,” Obabori said.

By the time all these are put in perspective and added to the shipping cost, the items are not likely to be competitive, he said, adding that the cost of bringing the produce to the port is already prohibitive.

Speaking also, Aisha Abubakar, former minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment, in her keynote address, advised stakeholders in the non-oil export value chain on the importance of collaboration to overcome the challenges faced by the sector and ensure its growth.

According to her, the present moment is the most opportune time for finding solutions to the various challenges faced by Nigeria’s non-oil export sector, both in terms of demand and supply.

“The non-oil export sector holds a veritable solution to the dwindling foreign reserves and the falling value of the nation’s currency, the Nigerian Naira,” she said.

Similarly, Ahmed Rabiu, president of the Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria, urged the government to prioritise the development of the non-oil sector by encouraging production and international trade.

Read also: How agric, industry, other sectors contributed to Nigeria’s GDP in Q2, 2023

He said this would reduce the nation’s reliance on oil exports as it accounted for about 90 percent of Nigeria’s exports and 60 percent of the government revenue, making the country vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices and global economic shocks.

Speaking on some of the challenges limiting export, Bamidele Ayemibo, lead consultant 3Timpex Ltd, based on survey findings contained in his presentation, said that 26 percent of exporters stated that port logistics is the major challenge they face in carrying out their export business.

The next group of exporters (20 percent) said their major challenge is inadequate access to export financing. Eleven percent complained of delays caused by Nigerian customs and other government agencies, while the remaining 10 percent say their greatest challenge is the exchange rate differentials.

Femi Boyede of FemiBoyede Consulting said that Nigeria is rated as the largest exporter of solid minerals, based on statistics from the Raw Material Research and Development Council as well as the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.