Executive Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Mr Segun Awolowo, has restated the agency’s commitment to boosting the income of the country by 30 per cent over the next four years through non-oil exports.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos at a seminar, Awolowo said the income generated from non-oil exports stood at $2.7billion (N531billion) as of December 2014, adding that a 30 per cent increase would see the figure rise to $3.51billion (N691billion) in the next four years.
He said the council was also planning to generate 1.5 million jobs in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector of the economy in the next five years.
He said the country had not fully benefited from Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because the country went into the scheme without a strategy.
Awolowo said since the US President Barak Obama has renewed AGOA for another ten years, the agency would do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria fully benefits from the scheme, adding that NEPC will continue to support capacity development for exporters and working on new exporter development programme.
He said “I always use the Australian example; they moved from 4,000 to 74, 000 exporters. With that, they increased the value of their non-oil export by over 4,000 fold. The more exporters you have, obviously the more things are going out.
“We are now more interested in intelligent trade information, and in what our neighbouring countries are importing from the West and, we are saying: why can’t we do it from here and just drive it across the border.
“When Nigeria approached AGOA when it was enacted, they went without a strategy. So, one of the things we have done is to work in close COLLABORATION with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to develop a strategy for AGOA. This time, we are going prepared.
“As you know, AGOA is a non-reciprocal trade preference programme that provides duty-free treatment to U.S. imports of certain products from eligible sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. AGOA preferences currently apply to approximately 7,000 tariff lines. We are planning workshops for small exporters on specified training for standards and non technical barriers to trade,” Awolowo said.He said the agency is collaborating with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Trade organization (WTO) to improve on the standard of the some products.
“There is going to be a lot of inter-agency collaboration as well as capacity building and we are setting up committees for standardisation to work on that. This will be launched very soon. We are emphasising on capacity building because when we visited the U.K. on an inspection of some of their ports to understand why we get so much rejects, we found out that some of the reasons were simply administrative, the wrong documentation.
“Everything is computerized in Europe. When the wrong thing is ticked, it stops the process. We are also talking with the Nigeria Customs on building an export hub. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has a trade hub, the import section of that hub is totally loaded but not the export section. So , we are trying to get that off the ground,” he said.