As Nigeria makes steady progress with the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the leadership of European Union (EU) in Nigeria has re-iterated that for Nigeria to reposition its economy for sustainable growth and development, the non-oil export sector is the key to the diversification agenda of the present administration.
This was disclosed in Abuja by the Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, Amb Ketil Karlsen, during a courtesy visit to the Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Olusegun Awolowo.
“ED, you have one of the most important jobs in Nigeria today given the enormous task and mandate of the Council to drive the diversification of the economy from oil using the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP), as your government looks to stabilizing the economy, its democratic governance and processes through diversification from dependence on oil as a major source of revenue” said Karlsen.
While acknowledging the strong partnership between NEPC and the EU Commission, the Ambassador, who said he was keen to learn about the progress of the Zero Oil Plan also touched on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which he said has mutual beneficial opportunities for Nigeria and the EU. He solicited the support of NEPC as a strategic partner in advancing wider understanding on the benefits of the EPA and in the same vein expressed that the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) was also germane for increased trade among African countries and the EU, as it seeks to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.
Responding, Awolowo disclosed that the Council is more than ever before positioned to drive the diversification agenda of the present administration using the zero oil plan. To underscore this, a National Committee on Export Promotion has been set up by the highest economic advisory body in the country, the National Economic Council headed by the Vice President.
He also said that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has mainstreamed the ZOP into the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan with particular emphasis on boosting supply of foreign exchange from non-oil sectors by driving growth in five key areas. These, Awolowo said are: Concentration on generating US$30billion from 11 strategic products; Exploring the competences within the comparative and competitive advantages of States through one state one product (OSOP) programme; review of trade agreements to prioritise Nigerian exports to 22 newly targeted Export destinations; Domestic sourcing of products through launch of first National Export Aggregator and Strengthening of Export Development Fund (EDF) scheme to enhance competiveness of locally produced goods.
Besides, he disclosed that the Council along with UNIDO and other relevant government Agencies is on the verge of testing the outcomes of the National Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP), which is aimed at improving quality, safety, integrity and marketability of Nigerian goods and services as well as removing technical barriers to trade. This testing will be a trial export of Nigerian beans following extensive work carried out by UNIDO and the Federal Government Inter-ministerial Committee on Zero Rejects, midwifed by NEPC in response to the EU’s ban on importation of Nigerian beans. It a pilot of the Conduits of Excellence programme of the National Quality Infrastructure, consistent with international best practices.