The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, said the Federal Government is leveraging on the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AFCFTA) to deepen its international trading through non-oil exports.
He said this at the interactive dinner for Ambassadors/High Commissioners and development partners in Nigeria over the weekend in Abuja.
Represented by Mr. Suleiman Audu, Director, Commodities and Export Department in the ministry, Adebayo said the informal meeting with the diplomatic corps was apt as it will enhance the existing multilateral cordial relationship with Nigeria.
The Minister also described NEPC’s initiative in promoting non-oil exports and increasing the market share as pro-active and urged other agencies under the ministry to emulate the action.
“This is particularly looking at the evolving economy and the fact that we came out of the COVID-19 pandemic with all the challenges’’.
On his part, Dr Ezra Yakusak, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to collaborate with key stakeholders in developing and promoting the non-oil export sector.
According to Yakusak, “NEPC cannot effectively discharge its duties without your individual or collective support”.
Describing them as key partners in the implementation of NEPC’s programmes and policies as a trade promotion organisation, Yakusak said that it further informed the resolve to open up channels of interfacing with them on regular basis.
He said that travels by NEPC for international engagements such as trade fairs, trade missions, solo exhibitions, meetings, market research, expos, trade and investment summit could not be possible without the support of embassies especially in visa processing.
“We have had occasions where our trade fairs were marred by denial of visas to selected exporters and our staff.
“Most of these occur at the last minute, when all other arrangements had been concluded thereby making it difficult for us to successfully execute such programmes.
“This is one critical area where your Excellencies can be of immense assistance to the council in our efforts to showcase Nigerian products to the international market.
“It is therefore my expectation that after this interaction, there will be a seamless exchange of information between the council and the various goods and services that Nigeria could trade with your countries,” Yakusak said.
He, however expressed the council’s quest to facilitate small and medium enterprises’ acquisition of international certification to access non-oil market with premium pricing.
According to Yakusak, the NEPC initiated the Nigerian competitiveness project tagged ‘Go certification’.
“The programme is intended to checkmate the numerous cases of export rejects and to also ensure the maintenance of minimum food safety standard in line with international best practices.
“Presently, a total of 101 certifications have been issued to various SMEs exporters with NEPC bearing the entire cost of such certifications like HACCP, FDA, ISO 22000 and HALAL,” Yakusak said.
He further said that NEPC had initiated the establishment of export trade houses under a public private partnership arrangement to further enhance the visibility of made in Nigeria products, facilitate market access and increase market share.
Also speaking, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, appreciated the initiative and assured of the ministry’s continued collaboration with NEPC in promoting non-oil exports.
Onyeama represented by Bolaji Akinremi, Director, Economic Trade and Investment in the ministry said “trade is a great instrument of foreign policy. So, there must continue to be an interplay of the political and the economic aspect which trade and investment represent.”
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