18 December 2012

Nigeria: Trade Ministry Unveils New Auto Policy in 2013

At last, a new auto policy expected to give boost to local manufacturing of automobiles, is ready and will be launched next year, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr OlusegunAganga said, yesterday.

Aganga who disclosed this during the 2nd Annual Seminar for Trade and Investment Correspondents and Business Editors organised by the Ministry of Trade and Investment in Abuja, also said that his ministry was set to put in place an investment tracking platform to monitor and aggregate the inflow of investment into Nigeria.

He maintained that just as the cement industry was doing well due to the federal government backward integration policy, the auto industry would from next year make use of locally sourced materials to create jobs for Nigerians.

According to the minister, plans by the federal government to recapitalise the Bank of Industry (BoI) will enable it disburse long term loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

He said that the recapitalisation was part of efforts by the current administration to sustain the availability of development funds to local operators in the real sector.

"The Federal Government was aware that funding poses a major challenge to private sector investors, and has set up machinery to recapitalise the bank. President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the ministry to recapitalize BoI in such a way that there would be enough resources to reach serious-minded investors," Aganga said.

Aganga said that the move was also to align the bank's operational practices with international best practices.

He also stated that with a well positioned and recapitalized BoI, the re-inventing of Nigeria's re-industrialisation would get a quantum leap.

Aganga also disclosed that Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia to set up a commodity exchange in the country according to the Ethiopian model.

He said the federal government wants to replace the Abuja Securities and Commodity Exchange (ASCE) Plc with an Exchange that is driven by technology.

The minister said that the federal government would exploit a regulated Warehouse Receipt System which would enhance agricultural trade in Nigeria by allowing beneficial market transactions that would otherwise not occur.

He said the system was expected to curtail cheating on weights and measures from which disadvantaged smallholder farmers suffer, in addition to also reducing storage losses.

The minister noted further that it would also contribute to improved agricultural commodity trade, reduce market instability and the political risks associated with it, and added that by encouraging a strong and efficient private trade, it would reduce the role of government in agricultural markets.

Aganga also noted that the economy attracted the sum of $8.9 billion in 2011 making it a choice destination for investors while also revealing plans to review the curriculum of Nigerian universities to make room for courses that would prepare graduates to be entrepreneurs and not job seekers.

He cited the textile sector of the economy as one vital sector of the economy that has seen remarkable improvement and disclosed that the capacity utilisation of the sector grew from 29.1 per cent to 52 per cent.

The minister expressed regret over Nigeria's share of global trade, and assured that the planned Diaspora programme of the ministry would reverse the trend as the programme would see to the establishment of Nigerian Malls in the Diaspora. These shops, he said, would literarily sell made-in-Nigeria goods and ultimately create wealth for Nigerian producers.

The minister said that the margin was eloquent testimony of government's determination to give the SMEs a pride of place in the economy like it has done for the cement sector.

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