• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Expectations of exporters in 2015

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Like businessmen in other professions and vocations, exporters have high expectations in the New Year.

One of these key expectations is the speedy review and return of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), which is the only functional export incentive for non-oil exporters. EEG is an incentive, ranging from 5 to 30 percent of export value, which was given to Nigerian non-oil exporters.

It was aimed at boosting non-oil export and was paid in the form of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates (NDCCs), redeemable against payment of customs and excise duty.

EEG had been in operation in the country until August 2013, when the Federal Government suspended it to give room for a review that would make

it sustainable and un-burdensome, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister for the economy.

Business across Borders interacted with a cross section of exporters who said EEG is one sure way of increasing exports to bring in more dollars to the Nigerian economy amid devaluation which has resulted in many naira pursuing few dollars.

They said that while there is the need to come up with the best formulae for the scheme, there is equally need to avoid series of interruption and suspensions experienced in its administration in the previous regime, adding that the backlogs owed exporters before the suspension of the scheme should be cleared to help those that have made export commitments or borrowed from banks, based on the incentive, realise their gains.

Tunde Oyelola, chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG), said the Federal Government should work with ECOWAS Commission to make national trade marks transnational within the sub- region.

According to Oyelola, the level of counterfeiting and cloning of Nigerian manufactured products in the ECOWAS and other African markets is becoming alarming, urging that efforts must beintensified at the sub-region to ensure that Nigeria manufacturers no longer lose markets to these

counterfeited products this year.

“We have recorded cases where goods that have Nigerian trademarks are counterfeited in Asian countries and exported back to African market with the impression that the goods are produced in Nigeria,” he said, stressing that the trend must be checked.

He further said there is the need to have an efficient logistic system to ensure effective intra regional trade in the sub region.

“To overcome the challenges of transportation, unnecessary delays at the border posts and ports of entry, and unofficial charges, the ECOWAS region should establish dedicated sea link for the coast of Guinea, and inter regional rail networks that will enhance trade volume and manufacturing export performance,” he stressed.

Oyelola, who is also the vice- chairman of PZ Cussons Nigeria plc, thus advocated Unified Regional Visa Policy for Foreign Investors this year.

“Many manufacturing exporters who bring foreign investors/partners to explore the ECOWAS market find it very difficult going from Nigeria to other ECOWAS countries. The current system requires the investors to go back to their countries to seek visa and this is strangulating export drive in the sub region. We recommend the Council to see this as a means to deepen regional trade and work with other MDAs and ECOWAS Commission for effective implementation,” he further said.

Other non-oil exporters who spoke to us said the Federal Government should support non-oil export by giving her aids to other African countries in kind rather than in cash.

“Made- in- Nigeria products should be the country’s foreign aid to other African countries in order to help establish the Nigerian products in those markets,” said a manufacturing exporter who chose to speak on the condition of anonymity.

Muda Yusuf, director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there is an urgent need to create the right environment that will increase the competitiveness of non-oil exports and remove bottlenecks that reduce same.

“The problem the non-oil export sector is facing is lack of competitiveness,” he said in an exclusive interview with Business across Borders.

“If you produce here and you are not competitive either in terms of price or quality, you cannot do any successful export. So it goes back to the issue of quality of business environment. You need to create a business environment that will enhance productivity and minimise bottlenecks. The beauty of export in general is competitive advantage,” he added.

However, exporters are also aware that should the ECOWAS officially begin the Common External Tariff (CET) regime this month there may be modifications in their requests, but they pledge that irrespective of whether the regime begins or not, the export sector should be strengthened to serve as a bulwark on the economy, which is continuously being threatened by plunge in oil prices in the international market.

ODINAKA ANUDU