Nigeria: Provide us warehouse in US, AGOA food exporters task Fed Government
Exporters of food products have called on the Federal Government to assist in providing enabling environment for easy export to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The exporters bared their minds at a recent Stakeholder’s roundtable meeting held at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Apapa, Lagos.
Organised by the AGOA Trade Resource Center (ATRC), the meeting featured Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Certified and licensed exporters during which participants exchanged ideas on best practices in the food export sector.
Regional Coordinator of the NEPC (South West), Mr. Babatunde Faleke at the event noted that the objective of the meeting was to interact with the exporters and to know why they have not appreciably exported Nigerian foods to the US under AGOA despite their certification.
According to Faleke, “the meeting was with the view to proffering solutions to the already known market access challenges and other challenges as will be informed by you participants”.
“We have to do things right. NEPC is committed to ensuring performance of exporters in a formal and ideal way, hence this roundtable meeting. Importantly, we want Nigerian exporters to participate in the forthcoming Food Show at Miami, in the US.” He also informed of the important role of the Nigerian American-Air-Sea Cargo, owner of shoptomydoor, in products shipment and sales in the US, and the need for exporters to network with the Company.
“In the past, export of food, particularly shrimps to the US was high, now there is a ban on export of Nigerian fish to the US until the needful is done by the appropriate authority. Hence the need to re-strategise, Faleke said.”
Speaking at the meeting, Managing Partner, Treyb Associate, an expert in FDA certification and related issues on trade to the US, Mr. David Aderibigbe, emphasised the importance of the FDA certification.
Aderibigbe who is also aware some back door food exports originates from Nigeria, told participants the danger in informal export. “The penalty of back door export can be grave. If your goods get to the USA and it is not on their list, if it is not much, they may categorise it as your personal goods but if it is in large volume and you don’t go through the normal process, it may not be allowed in to the US,” he explained.
The FDA expert however enumerated the processes involved in obtaining the FDA certification. “A visit to the factory is mandatory; the process begins when the applicant responds to a prototype questionnaire and product(s) analysis which will be reviewed.”
“After that, our agent in the US concludes registration and certification to hasten issuance of the Food Facility Registration Number which will be release to exporters for display on all their food package(s) to the US. When they would want to finally export we would also be involved, we have to notify the US Custom Boarder Protection to notify them that so and so product is coming to the US.
“We have to tell them the product code and quantity and communicate same to the FDA office before food departs Nigeria, they would now reply and give a cover note for all the products which the company would have to take along or send to their agent in the US, it is with that sheet they would clear the goods at the US end.” He added that about $700 is charged, but it could come down to about $500 because of the collaboration with the NEPC,” he explained.
Dr. Jide Adedeji, MD/CEO Obe Sause, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, is a manufacturer of Tomato Paste, Obe Sauce. He informed that he has not exported before but working on the processes to ensure itch-free export to the US.