TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria Opinion: Repositioning non-oil exports

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Source: This Day (Nigeria)

The desire of President Umaru Yar'Adua to fund the nation's budget mainly from non-oil exports is quite laudable. This quest to depart from the usual reliance of funding our budget from crude oil sales is long over due given the economic crisis that engulfed the world recently.

From rising cost of food items, crash in stock prices to an unprecedented high cost of living, it is crystal clear that any nation that fails to diversify its economy but depends solely on one source of revenue to drive its economy is laying a foundation for crisis and indeed, bequeathing an unpredictable future for its generation.

The recent global economic crisis has again drawn our attention to the fact that repositioning our non-oil export sector is the only road map to sustainable economic development. There is no gain saying the fact that soon there will be a major break through by the industrialized and technologically advanced countries of the world regarding the issue of alternative energy source.

We are now too familiar with issues like Biofuel, an alternative source of energy which is produced from any (biological) carbon source, the most common sources being photosynthetic plants while steady progress is being made in other areas like solar power, wind mill etc in an effort to reduce over dependence on crude oil and gas supply from OPEC countries like Nigeria.

Reports have further confirmed that Biofuel industries are rapidly expanding in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The question, therefore is with all these developments in the energy sector coupled with the fact that the economies of the developed countries are knowledge-driven (not resource based) how then do we reposition our non-oil export sector to guarantee a secured future for us all particularly in the wake of dwindling oil fortunes.

The answer to this question is not far-fetched as all we need to do especially those saddled with the responsibility of running the affairs of the country is to channel our developmental effort towards the non-oil export sector by ensuring that agriculture and our agro-allied industries are given all the necessary support by the federal and state governments.

Reason being that agriculture, till date, remains the only sector that can provide the leeway to productively engage our (restive) youths, create employment opportunities as well as for wealth creation.

Besides, for Nigeria to belong to the league of highly industrialized nations there must be concerted effort towards revitalizing the agricultural sector, as it remains the only sector that guarantees regular source of raw materials for some of our ailing and now moribund industries.

And until we are determined to reposition our non-oil export sector by conscientiously initiating and implementing policies that will catapult our economy to the league of 20 largest economies of the world by the year 2020, we will continue to depend on crude oil sales as our only source of revenue. That is why it is disheartening that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), according to a recent report by Thisday newspaper said the government was not ready to fund the nation's budget from non-oil revenue.

The saying that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step aptly describes the manner in which the funding of our budget from non-oil revenue can be realized. But adopting a defeatist approach to the issue is definitely not the way to go rather putting the right structures in place viz - feasible policies, adequate support for our entrepreneurs particularly the small and medium ones in terms of adequate incentives (tax holidays, interest free loans etc), regular power supply, good road networks among others, should be top on the list of things that can be done to reposition the non-oil export sector for sustainable economic development.

There is no doubt that to realize these objectives is a Herculean task. However, repositioning the sector for sustainable economic development can be realized through the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), an agency statutorily responsible for driving activities in that sector. Since its establishment 32 years ago, the Council, within the limited resources available has put in place structures that have, significantly, assisted in growing the sector.

Only recently, Nigeria joined the league of African countries exporting apparel products to the United States, following the first shipment of apparel by F and D Garments (worth N18 million) to the USA under the African Growth and Opportunities Act on July 17, 2008.

The company was able to record this feat with the support of Human Capital Development Centre, otherwise known as "The AGOA Training School" which was established in 2006. The Center which is located in Ikoyi, Lagos was conceptualized by the NEPC to train Nigerian entrepreneurs on how to produce apparel that meet the requisite standards required for the United States market.

Obviously, the non-oil export sector boost of huge, yet untapped potentials that can drive our economy, and thus reduce our dependence on crude oil. Take for instance our music and movie industry. Through dint of hard work, creativity and sheer determination to succeed players in that industry have succeeded in developing and promoting that industry to the level it is presently, in spite of the menace of piracy and seeming lack of support from our mega banks. Oil and gas will not last for ever, now is the time to concentrate our effort towards diversifying our economy in order to ensure sustainable economic development by repositioning our non-oil export sector.



“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on AGOA.info


Click here to view a sector profile of Nigeria's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.


Other regularly updated trade statistics on AGOA.info include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.