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‘Govt Must Revive Export Expansion Grant To Boost Non-oil’

by December 18, 2016 General

Tunde Oyelola is the chairman of the Export Promotion Group at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MANEG). In this interview with CHIMA AKWAJA, he said all that Nigeria needs to get out of recession was to adopt right policies in 2017, explore non-oil export and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS). Excerpts …

Diversification seems to have become a constant word when Nigeria’s economy is discussed recently. What does the manufacturing sector expect from the government?

A spectacular lesson of globalization is that local markets no matter how large are no longer a guaranteed platform to promote industrial productivity. That is why countries like China and India have incorporated export trade into their respective foreign policy as a way to strengthen their position in international trade.

Thus, the manufacturing sector which is strategic and instrumental to revamping the economy wants the government to revive the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) which actually is the only incentive that has served as a catalyst to boost on non-oil export in Nigeria. All over the world, even in developed countries where there are no infrastructural deficiencies like we have in Nigeria, government give incentives to their manufacturers. For instance, Australia, India, China, Singapore, Uganda and so on, are actively involved in boosting their non-oil export sector through various kinds of incentives.  In year 2015 alone, the Chinese government paid a total of 656.5 billion yuan  ($102.7 billion) in export tax rebates in the first six months, up 12.4 percent from 2014.

The Federal Government introduced the EEG scheme to encourage non-oil exports as an alternative source of revenue to reduce our economy’s dependency on petroleum and related products. The scheme came into effect under the Export (Incentives and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Cap 118 of 1986 (as amended by the Act No. 65of 1992).

The policy which is domiciled in Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) recorded huge success with the volume of non-oil exports rising from USD700 million in 2005to USD 2.9 billion in 2013 with export of key commodities to ECOWAS and the European Union. The sector witnessed a sharp decline from US$2.9billion in 2013to US$1.1billion in 2015 which is about 59 percent decrease. As at the end ofthe third quarter of 2016, the value of non–oil export had decreased toUSD192,804,298. The trend in decline which began in 2014 was due, largely to government’s interruptions in the implementation of the EEG and non-acceptance of the NDCC by the Nigeria Custom Service. From the foregoing statistics, it is obvious that there is positive correlation between the scheme and non-oil export growth in Nigeria.

As the Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria’s Export Promotion Group, how ready are your members to support the economy through exportation?

Very ready! If government shows readiness by adopting the right policies that enhance economic activities, they are ever ready to support through non-oil export.

What has the non-oil sector contributed to the Nigerian economy, say in the last five years?

The sector has made significant contributions in terms of employment generation especially under EEG.  Research has it that from 2005 to 2013, job creation rose from 105,220 in 2005 to 211,291 by2010 as published by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC). It began to experience a sharp decline from 2011 to 183,823 and 159,926 largely due to interruption of the EEG.     Also, the non-oil sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been significant. Non-oil export grew by 8.80 percent at the end of fourth quarter2012 it however went down to 7.88 percent by end of fourth quarter of 2013.

What do you attribute the decrease to?

Weak policy implementation on the part of government! The decrease in non-oil export can be attributed to, for instance the frequent disruptions of non-oil export driver in Nigeria which is the EEG. The scheme has been interrupted 10 times for different reasons and since January 2014 till date, it has been on hold. Interestingly, government has promised to revive the EEG early next year, 2017and if they keep to it, the economy is going to witness a reverse trend of this current fall in non-oil export. By the third quarter, economic recession would become history in Nigeria. Third quarter because of the lag effect of the decision taken by government and the time implementation will begin.

A lot has been said about recession, as an experienced industrialist, how do you think Nigeria should navigate her way out of recession?

The right and most suitable way out of the economic recession currently ravaging the Nigerian economy is formulation and implementation of economic policies that will strengthen the manufacturing sector and attract foreign investors both as Foreign Direct Investors (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI). I take this position because, the manufacturing sector is critical to every economy across the globe and Nigeria’s case is no different. Policy decisions of successive governments have contributed to the challenges confronting the sector today. A good number of manufacturers have closed shop across the country while some especially the SMEs that are still in operation are retrenching workers, leading to increase in the number of the unemployed. Unfortunately, we have found ourselves in an economic situation where monetary policy and fiscal policy are not convergent.

How does regional trade play out in Nigeria?

In ECOWAS, Nigeria still play significant role in intra-regional trade among other member-states. The value of trade between Nigeria and other ECOWAS Countries in 2013 increased by the following percentages over 2012.  Trades with Ghana increased by 24 percent, Cote d’Ivoire 23 percent, Benin Republic 25 percent, Burkina Faso 293 percent, Guinea 124 percent, Senegal percent, and Liberia 26 percent. As at the end of third quarter of 2016, non-oil exports to ECOWAS countries stood at USD 55.6million with Ghana as the major export destination according to the report filed by pre-shipment agents representing 26 percent of the total value of non-oil exports within the third quarter. Even at that, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) is making frantic efforts to increase the volume of intra-regional Trade through the Trade House platform and plans are already underway awaiting support from government.

What does the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) means for ordinary man on the street?

The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) is a giant stride taken by ECOWAS to promote intra-regional trade among its members towards the creation of a common market. The ECOWAS Revised Treaty, include the abolition of customs duties levied on imports and exports and other non-tariff barriers among Member States in order to establish a Free Trade Area in the Community. Like the other regional trade integrated area all over the world, ETLS is the foremost Trade Facilitation scheme put forward by ECOWAS in the Community. Accordingly, it was first implemented in 1979 with agricultural products, handicraft and crude products being allowed to benefit from the scheme until 1990 when it was expanded to include industrial products. Since then Nigerian companies that applied have been admitted into the scheme. Nigeria being the largest economy in the ECOWAS sub-region benefits more from ETLS till date. This is because the ETLS makes made-in-Nigeria products competitive in the ECOWAS market amidst goods from Asian and Europe. Under this scheme, company’s product registered into the ETLS in Nigeria can be exported to any ECOWAS member countries with zero duty. In the same vein products registered into the ETLS by companies resident in any of the ECOWAS member countries can export to Nigeria with zero duty with same right of access to the market provided it is not among the products on the exempted list.

What should Nigerians do to maximize the benefits of the ETLS?

We need aggressive sensitization exercise to enlighten the business public about the scheme and the need to register their products into the ETLS. Nigeria should collaborate with ECOWAS Commission as the largest economy in the sub-region to ensure full implementation of ETLS in other ECOWAS countries in order to ensure that the envisaged benefits of the scheme are fully converted to the advantage of the country.

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