Friday, March 24, 2017 12:15 PM/ by Femi Adekoya, The Guardian
EU makes case for EPA
Almost four years after incentives for exports were suspended, the Federal Government yesterday announced its plans to revive the key incentive scheme, Export Expansion Grant (EEG) next week and also pay outstanding liabilities of over N200 billion.
Specifically, the Federal Government noted that the outstanding debts will be cleared by issuing sovereign notes/promissory notes to non-oil exporters it was owing to boost exportation under the revival strategy being implemented by the administration.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo said approval had been given by the presidency to clear outstanding debts and revive the scheme in order to increase non-oil exports in line with the zero oil plan and export promotion programmes.
Besides, the European Union (EU) has also made a case for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being proposed to Nigeria and other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries, noting that the Union is not using the trade instrument to penetrate the market but enhance development.
Speaking at the Nigerian Norwegian Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly business roundtable in Lagos, yesterday, the Head of Trade and Economics section, EU Common Embassy in Nigeria, Filippo Amato, explained that the EPA is being proposed as a development initiative to reduce the high rate of migration of Africans to Europe in search of greener pastures, thereby also putting pressure on available resources in the EU countries.
Citing the safeguard measures put in place to guard against abuse of the EPA, Filippo urged the Federal Government to consider the ratification of the trade deal.
Also, Awolowo chided local manufacturers for producing only for the local markets instead of expanding capacity for exports in order to address challenges with the nation’s balance of payments.
To boost Nigeria’s trade presence in the international market, government had established the EEG in 2006 as an incentive to cushion the effect of harsh business environment faced locally by importers and drive non-oil exports revenue.
The incentive, modelled after Brazil’s and China’s, was targeted at earning more foreign exchange, attracting more non-oil investments and creating thousands of jobs, while also making local commodities competitive in the international market.
The EEG, which was operated through the Nigeria Customs Service, with instruments known as NDCCs, was suspended in August 2013 by the previous administration which promised to review it. The review, however, did not happen before the exit of the last administration.
On his part, the Chairman of the Chamber, Chijioke Igwe said the objective of the forum is to foster mutually beneficial outcomes by bringing stakeholders and investors from the two countries together to explore opportunities for trade.
Assuring stakeholders of the Bank of Industry’s commitment to its mandate, the Group Head, Engineering and Technology of the bank, Femi Shittu explained that the bank has reviewed its processes to enhance service delivery to its stakeholders.