Non-oil exporters including those of agricultural products have expressed concern on the stringent requirements exporters are expected to fulfill before accessing international markets.
They complain that these requirements are cumbersome and costly.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its first virtual dialogue convened by the Department for International Development (DFID), Policy Development Facility (PDF) Bridge Programme, the exporters advocated that multiple charges and levies by government agencies be streamlined in line with international best practices, assuring that the commodities with huge prospects present an avenue to boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
The forum also observed that there is an urgent need to restructure Nigeria’s trade basket to reduce the dominance of crude oil.
“With dwindling crude oil prices further exacerbated by the effects of COVID 19, the Nigerian economy which is largely reliant on the oil and gas sector is especially vulnerable. Government both at the federal and state levels must prioritize the development of the non-oil sector,” it said.
The participants called on relevant government agencies and regulatory organisations to be deliberate about implementing policies that will enable the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to grow in their capacity to engage in more export, given that the MSMEs constitute majority of the enterprises in the exportation of spices and herbs, textiles and garments, as well as leather products.
It also stressed the importance of creating an enabling business environment to boost the level of productivity of MSMES.
“Implementation of enabling policies and provision of infrastructure which includes physical, human and process infrastructure came up as strategic imperatives for boosting local production. This will enable producers meet up with market demands both locally and internationally,” it said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Foods, Mr. Don Ebubeogu, said although government through the Central Bank had introduced a number of policies to enable foreign trade like AGSMEIS loan and reduction of interest rate from 10 to 5 percent during this year among others, they still need to do more to encourage capacity utilization and boost export trade.
“The bulk of our non-oil export comes from agriculture. Apart from sesame seeds, hibiscus and a few other items, the bulk of our exportable items are also consumed in large quantities in Nigeria, thus putting pressure on export trade. We cannot maximize export when food security is threatened locally. Therefore, government should focus more to boost food production by providing direct technical intervention to the rural farmers. Intervention that will aid the farmers embrace good agricultural practice and also to reduce post-harvest losses.
“We have thrown away a lot of money to farmers without getting the expected results. This is time to throw in technical assistance and equipment without necessarily providing money to the rural farmers,” he said.