• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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NEPC to sustain efforts to make Nigerian products competitive in Africa

NEPC partners firm to boost non-oil exports, increase FX earnings

Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria’s lead agency in the promotion of non-oil sector of the economy, has promised to continue to sustain efforts to expedite the competitiveness of Nigerian exportable brands in the proposed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) market, through partnership with relevant agencies and international development partners.

This is to ensure that Nigerian exporters are adequately and sufficiently prepared for the African single largest market.

Ezra Yakusak, executive director/chief executive officer, NEPC, made the promise Thursday in Aba, Abia State, at the Aba-leg of a-day workshop on “Export competency development to enhance micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) success in ECOWAS and AfCFTA, organised by NEPC headquarters, Abuja.

The workshop was also held in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State and Asaba, Delta State capital.

Fifty-five member States of Africa Union (AU) established the AfCFTA to create a single continebt-wide market for goods and services and to promote the movement of capital and natural persons, while it represents an important milestone in achieving an economically integrated Africa.

Yakusak, who was represented at the workshop, by Roselyn Ekanem, trade promotion advisor (TPA) and head, Aba Smart office of NEPC, stated that it is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that Nigerian exporters are fully armed with all necessary skills and requirements to be able to operate in the market.

He said that the present administration is committed to providing all the necessary support to the SMEs in order to strengthen their capacity, through various initiatives and schemes.

Yakusak explained that the Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) is one laudable initiative of the Federal Government to support and facilitate SME exporters access to the export market.

Read also: Bazaar Nigeria Partners Traction to strengthen MSMEs in customer engagement

The EEFP according to him, is a Federal Government economic sustainability plan to stimulate non-oil export, safeguard jobs and protect businesses from the adverse effect of COVID-19 pandemic, which also is in line with the objective of National Committee on Export Promotion in the implementation of the “Zero Oil Plan”, a flagship programme of the Council.

“Other strategic strides are the establishment of the National Action Committee (NAC) on AfCFTA, to among other objectives facilitate stakeholders’ engagements, trade facilitation and inclusiveness and the National Agency for Trade Negotiation (NOTN)”.

Okechukwu Amaechi, a trade promotion expert, Aba Smart Office, who read the TPAs welcome address, stated that the export competency development programme has been tested and found out to be successful mode for strengthening MSMEs capacity to penetrate the export market.

He explained that the workshop was organised to bring stakeholders together to acquaint them with the generic market access criteria, while positioning them to take advantage of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and AfCFTA.

Olusegun Olutayo, lead expert, Trade Enablement, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, who delivered a paper titled “Regional Trade”, urged exporters to take advantage of (AfCFTA) the new market.

“When you think of about two billion population and with a gross domestic product (GDP) running into trillions that is massive”.

He explained that under AfCFTA, 90 percent of products have been libralised, noting that it is a matter of picking one or two products and looking for the market within the AfCFTA market, which is Africa and then you begin to export.

He however noted that export is not an easy business and urged exporters to get prepared to take advantage of what AfCFTA would offer.

“it is a serious business. If you want to export that means you want to go international, you need to sit down and do your home work, line out your plans, get information and when you do that, you are good to go.

“And I can tell you for a fact that AfCFTA is the market,” he stated.

Andrew Okhiulu, assistant director policy and strategy department, NEPC, Abuja in a paper titled, “Seven steps to export”, attributed exporters failure to underestimation of task, poor market research, improper documentation and poor customer communication.

He stated that the above issues makes it difficult for NEPC to support exporters, stressing that the Council finds it difficult to give out contacts to some exporters, due to sharp practices.

He advised exporters, who have succeeded in their first transactions,to repeat what they did to achieve the breakthrough.

“Build on the success to sustain your export and increase your volume and profits,” he said.