TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

‘Nigeria will benefit more from AGOA before scheme expires’

Saturday, 16 February 2019 Published: | Omolara Akintoy

Source: The Nation Online (Nigeria)

Recently, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) under its African Growth and Opportunity Act Trade Resource Centre (AGOA-ATRC) organised a one day workshop for export ready and potential exporters in Kano. NEPC, the Federal Government’s agency in charge of promotion of all non-oil export trained participants on how to export under AGOA into the United States and enjoy maximum benefit.

The Regional Coordinator of the NEPC, South West, Mr. Babatunde Faleke speaks with Omolara Akintoye on why Nigerians need to tap into the scheme.

Excerpts:

In your opinion as an administrator and Coordinator at the NEPC, how do you think Nigeria can benefit maximally from AGOA?

Yes, Nigeria can benefit maximally like other sub-Saharan AGOA eligible  Countries, only if  processor/manufacturer/ producers of made in Nigerian products can do things right: produce quality AGOA eligible goods consistently, meet buyers specifications, mass produce to make the goods competitive, meet orders by timely delivery of goods, obtain Textile Visa Stamp for export of apparel and textiles and support shipment with genuine documentation like quality certificate and certificate of origin etc.

It is obvious there are so many exporters who export ‘behind the door’, I mean those not exporting through the NEPC. What is your organisation doing to encourage these exporters to take advantage of AGOA?

The NEPC identified this trend through market research visit to the markets like Ebute Ero, Idumagbo and Marina in Lagos Island, Mile 12 market, Aspanda market in Badagry, Okerete Boarder in Shaki and Seme boarder; where both leather and rubber slippers, grinding machines, malt and soft drinks, Yam, Tomatoes, confectionaries, household goods etc. were loaded for export.

To mitigate this trend of informal trade, we organised Zero to Export Programmes where exporters and potential exporters were taken through the process of exporting from zero knowledge to the stage of exporting.  Participants were taken through eight weeks intensive lecture, culminating in the field/market research to gain practical experience. So far, a total of 10 series of Zero2Export programmes have been conducted and 10 Cooperatives formed and are engaged in export businesses.  This was achieved through collaboration with the private sector organisations like Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank and Providus Bank.

How well have you sensitized Nigerian exporters to take advantage of AGOA before it expires?

From time to time people do visit the AGOA Center to make enquiries and information on AGOA disseminated to them. The same happens at the other Regional offices of the Council where we have AGOA Desk officers. More importantly and within our limited resources, advocacy programmes was conducted in seven States in Nigeria in 2018; Kano is the first State in 2019. In all, precisely 913 participated in the programmes.

Recently, one of the AGOA eligible countries, Seychelles was declared not eligible again since the country (of just about 100,000 population) got the maximum benefit and exited the list of developing countries.  What is NEPC/Nigeria learning from this?

Seychelles is a very small country, has a strategy in place and took advantage of the opportunity, so it was quite easy to coordinate the country’s trade compared to Nigeria which is a large country of about 200 million people with different cultures.  The expectations are really high and requires concerted efforts from all the Stakeholders both public and private sector organisations to move the economy forward.  As NEPC is striving to fulfil its mandate of promoting non-oil exports and other Stakeholders follow the process, with time Nigeria will get there as we have more products and capacity.

 

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