Nigeria needs to create a roadmap of export policy that can be implemented all through the next 25 years in order to accelerate its diversification away from oil revenue driven economy, Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said on Thursday in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said the country could rake in substantial foreign proceeds from the export of both agriculture products and goods from other explorable sectors..
Ambode was speaking at the technical meeting of the 2nd National Committee on Export Promotion convened by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Ikeja, Lagos, where he also said that achieving the ‘Zero Oil Plan’, which is an integral component of the federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), would only be feasible if the country institutionalises the framework to support local industries who can drive the desired scale of growth.
The state, he noted, has already keyed into several export initiatives and has identified strategies for developing three key commodities such as fish and vegetables, which are areas the state has comparative and competitive advantage.
The development of these commodities into exportable products is part of the state’s objective to create locally made products and services that not only satisfy local markets, but meets competitive export demand, Ambode said.
By 2020, the state, he explained, would have started achieving its export goals with the investment of the Dangote Group and other deep sea ports, Lekki Free Trade Zone, will total a projected $6 billion.
“Over the years we have seen that oil is 90 percent of what this economy makes. So if there is a flip in the price of oil, what happens to 190 million people? If in 2050 Nigeria is targeting to be third largest country in the world, then there is going to be a problem.” He said.
“So if we are giving subsidy in fuel, and we have more people walking on the streets of Lagos than the cars, why can’t I give subsidy for food? So if I buy from Kebbi and make Kebbi to produce more rice, and they sell to me at N14, 000, I sell it at N12, 000; I give poor people and rich people the subsidy of N2, 000. Is it not better than fuel? So if they can give subsidy in fuel, let’s give subsidy in food. Beyond agric product, we need to create a roadmap of an export policy for the next 25 years which each state will follow. That’s the core. It is the institutions that really drive the growth and prosperity of this country,” he said.
Segun Awolowo, the director and chief executive officer, Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), raised concern over the seeming neglect of local production industries in terms of attracting significant quantum of both foreign direct investments (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI).
He lamented that most investment influx into the country have largely focused on financial services and telecommunications industries, at the detriment of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
He believes the Dangote refinery project still in the radar will rewrite that narrative by supporting local players.
Addressing the concern of the Manufacturers Association (MAN) over the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement, Awolowo said the issues could be rectified to protect their interest since the agreement can be remedied.
“A trade agreement in itself has remedies. Nigeria itself has signed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement and it has been rectified. In it, there are mechanisms, if you think the industry is not being protected. So that is what we will work out and that is what MAN is calling for. We don’t want to cripple our manufacturing. We also have our industrial revolution plan but we have to face it. But we are now in a globalised world,” Awolowo said.
The Manufacturers Association late in March expressed worries that the contents of the agreement could lead to gross unemployment as most manufacturing companies may be crippled by stiff competition. According to Frank Jacobs, the president of MAN, the issues of market access that allows only 10 percent of products to be protected as well as government’s enforcement mechanism in the area of rules of origin needed to be clarified for local producers.
The AfCTA is expected to create a trade bloc of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion. The agreement demands that countries to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods to liberalize services.