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Nigerian goods failing to make global impact

Published date:
Sunday, 14 June 2009

Nigerian goods remain unattractive in the international market because of poor product finishing. Vanessa Adams, the trade and investment director of the West Africa Trade Hub said this in an interview with NEXT. It was at the opening of the African Growth Opportunity Act(AGOA) Resource Centre, at the Bank of Industry complex in Lagos on June 9.

She added that the non-oil sector could only compete effectively with similar markets if there was better quality in labelling and packaging of Nigerian products.

The sector has been receiving attention from the government, due to the global crash in the price of oil. It is also seen as an alternative way of generating revenue for the government.

The director of economic growth in the office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria, Ron Greenberg, said the Nigerian non-oil sector still has a lot to learn if it is to compete in the international market.

“The market for the products is available as most people are willing to buy but the finishing of those products matters a lot,” he said. “That is what they will first look at, especially craft work. For Nigerian products to create a niche for themselves in the global market, they must have good finishing.”

Export of non-oil products

Paul Okpue, a bamboo craft manufacturer and exporter, said Nigeria can generate enough revenue if she taps into other natural resources beyond oil.

The former Delta state legislator said he is looking forward to a Nigeria without oil.

“There will be a day when Nigerians will stop depending on oil and start depending on the non-oil sector, that is why I am encouraging the youth to take on the craft of making things with one of the natural resources which is seen as a nuisance to the community.”

Aminat Ahmed, a shear butter trader for the international market, said she has been having problems with the acceptance of her product in the international market, even as some of her other colleagues had found success. She blamed this on the unattractive packaging of her goods.

“If Nigerian goods are packaged in attractive forms with nice cases and labelling, it will surely have a breakthrough in the market because this is what will first attract the buyer to it. The problem is that we are still lacking and struggling to achieve this standard”, she said.

Market for the Nigerian market

Mr. Greenberg said there is an international market for most of the goods in Nigeria, especially in the US, but Nigerians need to learn more about the market environment and what the people want.

“They have to learn more to know what the consumers want and how the consumers want it. They should think more about the consumer when producing and not about what they think they want,” Mr.Greenberg said.

Ms.Adams also agreed there was a market for Nigerian products internationally but that improvements were needed.

“Nigerians need expert advice on what to export to the international market and knowledge of what the market looks like,” she said. “Why most people complain about the products not getting acceptance into the international market is because of the way it is presented. Nigerians have the products but lack the expertise to make these products look attractive on the international market.”

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, said at the workshop that the US is ready to provide the technical assistance to Nigerians on how to operate in the global market through the AGOA scheme and its resource centre located at the bank of industry complex in Lagos.

“We have specialists from several US government agencies, with a range of expertise and programmes focused on agriculture exports, agricultural development, trade, and financing to help agribusinesses succeed in a competitive global market. This will encourage the financing and export of agricultural produce from Nigeria to the US,” she said.

The managing director of the Bank of Industry, Evelyn Oputu, agreed that Nigeria products still have a long way to go.

“The US will teach us all we need to know on how to make our product available and acceptable to the US market, that is why they now have an office in the bank of industry building and this will help shift our focus from oil,” she said.


According to Mr.Okpue, lack of funds remains a major challenge in making Nigeria a global competitor in terms of exports.

He said Nigerian manufacturers need a major financial boost from the government and banks because investments are needed for expensive machinery and power generation.

“The running cost of production in Nigeria is high because manufacturers with the machinery still have to generate their power and this will affect the total cost of production. Shipping costs will also be added to the total sale price which might end up being on the high side,” he said.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

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 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.

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