2 July 2012

Nigeria: FG Wants States' Export Promotion Committee Upgraded to Agencies

The Federal Government (FG) has urged the various state governments to upgrade their existing Export Promotion Committees to Export Promotion Agencies in line with its determination to enable states to be more involved in non-oil export promotion activities.

The upgrade will complement the role of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council towards improving value addition activities.

This was contained in a 16-Point Communiqué adopted at the just concluded 5th Meeting of the National Council on Trade and Investment (NCTI-05) in Minna, Niger State.

The National council is an annual meeting that affords all stakeholders the opportunity to interact and formulate policies and programmes as they affect Trade, Investment and Industry in the country as well as review progress made so far on the policies formulated year-on-year.

The Council also urged the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to strengthen liaison with agencies involved in the establishment and administration of skills acquisition centres owing to the importance of skills acquisition in industrial development.

It applauded the on-going campaign by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment to encourage Nigerians to patronize Made-in-Nigeria Products, advising that the matter should be referred to the National Economic council for consideration and endorsement to fast-track the implementation of the programme.

Council commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment (FMTI) in addressing some of the challenges of Trade and Investment through various Initiatives. It condemned the lack of effective synergy amongst the agencies and urged that related activities be harmonized for more positive results.

It also took note of the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment in the African growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) process, particularly with respect to the activities of African Women entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP).

It however observed the absence of coordination between the Ministry and some of her Parastatals involved in the process and urged for harmonization and streamlining of activities.

The Council noted the deficiencies (contamination) such as Aflotoxins discovered recently in exported Mellon Seeds and encouraged States and other relevant agencies to collaborate with NEPC for capacity building on the value chain development for Melon.

They also acknowledged the vital role of non-oil export in national development and recommended the review of qualifying capital of N5 million (Five Million Naira) for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme to capture more small scale exporters among other issues.

Nigerian economy offers opportunities for American investors

The Nigerian economy has undergone significant reforms to attract investment, particularly from the United States of America, says Central Bank of Nigeria's Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu.

Speaking at a forum he facilitated at the Wharton School of Business recently, Philadelphia, United States of America, Dr Moghalu said that opportunities abound to invest in Nigeria's burgeoning sectors of education, health, manufacturing and agriculture.

While alluding to the multi-billion Naira Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS), Nigerian Incentive - based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) and other initiatives aimed at jump-starting the economy, Dr Moghalu noted that:

"There are lots of opportunities, but these opportunities are held back by issues of access to finance - and that is why the Central Bank of Nigeria has stepped in very strongly to support small businesses through a number of interventions in the areas of agriculture and credit guarantees and so, the process is improving."

Dr Moghalu conceded that shortage of electrical power supply, lack of modern transportation system and other infrastructural deficit could have added to the cost of doing business in Nigeria, saying that these are being addressed by the reforms in other sectors of the economy.

He also stated that the country remained a viable market for entrepreneurs, and reminded his audience that: "Nigeria has a huge market of 160 million people, and there is a growing middle class, and so there is a strong opportunity to invest in Africa and Nigeria."

In his welcome address, the chairman of the Mayor's Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, Dr Stanley Straughter, observed that the American and Nigerian economies were intertwined. "Between 5,000 and 10,000 primary and secondary jobs would be lost (in Philadelphia) was it not for its crude oil - and so Africa is an important partner in the economy of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas."

Dr Straughter underlined the substance of Nigeria's economy thus: "Nigeria is on the path to becoming one of the top economies in the world and we have a first hand opportunity to actually be a witness to the historic event on the continent of Africa, in terms of its growth and it is being led by Nigeria and, of course, South Africa."

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