The director general and chief executive officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr. Olusegun Awolowo has said that crude oil has served Nigeria for more than 60 years and that there is need to find a new anchor for future growth.
Awolowo stated this in his keynote address at the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) conference held in Lagos on Thursday with the theme ‘Effective export chain management, and Compliance to regulations.’
He said almost all oil producing countries around the world had concluded they must diversify their exports to build truly sustainable economies.
“Over 195 countries are committed to reducing their consumption of fossil fuels. It means over 195 countries will be buying less oil in years to come. Nigeria’s customers are therefore planning to buy less oil very soon. This is a major shift in what the global economy will look like in coming years, and a threat to oil rich nations. All major oil exporters have therefore taken notice, and have now made ‘exports diversification’ away from crude oil their top economic priority,” he said.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia launched ‘Saudi 2030’; Russia by decree launched a six-year plan to start earning an extra US$250 billion a year from non-oil sources.
“We are in complete agreement that our nation’s economic growth must be export driven through export oriented manufacturing and industry. Indeed NACCIMA has been a strategic partner in the formulation of Nigeria’s Zero Oil Plan. The Zero Oil Plan identifies 22 sectors where Nigeria has both comparative and competitive advantage in world trade and the specific international markets to penetrate,” he said.
To achieve rapid export diversification, the NEPC director general identified three areas that should be dealt with.
“Firstly we must be ready to compete and innovate to get our own share of global trade. This will not come easy and must be deliberately and systematically achieved. Secondly, Nigeria needs to create a conducive business environment to attract the ongoing international reallocation of production and processing facilities from richer countries to developing markets. Lastly, our country must define and implement a comprehensive framework of trade agreements and fiscal instruments to improve our access to global supply chains,” he said.
He also emphasised that effective export chain management and compliance to regulations play important part in “whether we succeed or fail in our export revolution.”
He also stated that Nigeria is blessed with exportable agricultural products, solid minerals, manufacturing products among others and that NEPC had catalogued at least 10 products from which Nigeria could earn more than what it earns from crude oil currently.
He said efforts were already ongoing by the federal government to accelerate the pace at which many of the sectors begin to contribute foreign exchange.
Regarding export regulations, he said Nigeria had come a long way, but still has some work to do.
He said the federal government had established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), saddled with the responsibility to shore up Nigeria’s competitiveness, promote Nigeria as an investment destination of choice, and improve the country’s business environment through the Ease of Doing Business.
Awolowo also said PEBEC implemented within 60 days a total of 31 reforms. Consequently, he said Nigeria climbed up 14 steps in the global ranking of the World Bank 2018 edition of the “Ease of Doing Business Index”, and was also recognised as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.
He also said the federal government had also issued some key executive orders partly to improve the ease of doing business including non-oil export operations, including Executive Order Sub-section 21, requiring agencies physically present in Nigerian ports to harmonise their operations into one single interface station domiciled in one location in the port for better administration.
On import regulations he Nigeria’s advocacy for market access into priority markets “has not been sufficiently sustained to ensure we get what we want in trade relationships.
However, he said things had begun to change as NEPC and the ministry of industry, trade, and investments, are articulating and implementing specific strategies to improve market access for Nigeria goods into key markets.
“No economy can survive without exports,” said Awolowo and called on the exporters within NACCIMA to register and work with NEPC to link up with global supply chains.
He assured that NEPC and the government will continue to unpack and improve the regulatory framework, “as we are committed to making Nigeria one of the easiest places in the world to export goods.”