The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with key stakeholders in developing and promoting the non-oil export sector.
The Executive Secretary of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, said this at the interactive dinner for Ambassadors/High Commissioners and development partners in Nigeria Friday in Abuja.
According to Yakusak, NEPC cannot effectively discharge its duties without individual or collective support of the envoys.
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 a 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 the 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 standards 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.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, 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.
Represented by Mr Suleiman Audu, Director, Commodities and Export Department in the ministry, Adebayo said, “this is particularly looking at the evolving economy and the fact that we came out of the COVID-19 pandemic with all the challenges’’.
Similarly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in his goodwill message, appreciated the initiative and assured of the ministry’s continued collaboration with NEPC in promoting non-oil exports.
“Trade is a great instrument of foreign policy. So, there must continue to be an interplay of the political and the economic aspects which trade and investment represent.
“So, we provide a good platform for our missions abroad to represent Nigerian economic interests and for the headquarters here to mobilise the foreign missions in Nigeria for the progress of our economic policy,’’ he said.
Onyeama was represented by Bolaji Akinremi, Director, Economic Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Forein Affairs.
Speaking on behalf of the Ambassadors, Amb. Salaudeen Abbas, Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps in Nigeria, assured of the support of the international community to cooperate with Nigeria in boosting international trade relations.
“In my 14 years of being in Nigeria, this is the very first time this kind of event is hosted and I am optimistic about the positive results it will attract.
“We are committed to seamless interactions that would promote the development and diversification of Nigeria’s export trade,” Abbas said.