The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured exporters that they will continue to have unfettered access to their export proceeds.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during a presentation at Zenith Bank’s 2021 Export Seminar, which held via a virtual platform yesterday, however, urged them to reciprocate the good gestures of the central bank by repatriating their funds.
According to him, supporting greater trade within Africa and the global community is vital to the CBN’s objectives of enabling greater economic growth and creating employment opportunities for the country’s growing population.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting implications on crude oil prices in 2020, which led to a significant decline in government revenues and forex earnings, had strengthened the case for the diversification of the economy.
Emefiele expressed optimism that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) offers opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of manufacturing, ICT, agriculture and financial services.
He stated that the full implementation of AFCFTA would give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.
He said, “I believe that we should seize this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serve as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African markets.
“In addition, we have a very young energetic and technological savvy population that has been leveraging technological applications to improve service delivery in the areas of finance, logistics and agriculture to consumers in Nigeria.
“I believe the AFCFTA will provide an opportunity for these young talented Nigerians to expand their services across the African region. Developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa is one aspect that can help to support the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.”
He said Nigerian banks were expanding across Africa, just as he encouraged financial institutions to also leverage their presence in other parts of Africa to support Nigerian businesses seeking to expand into new markets in Africa by providing trade facilities to those with strong potentials for growth.
He said: “At the CBN, we have taken considerable steps to improve the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them to take advantage of export opportunities in Africa.
“Our intervention programmes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors are helping to enable businesses to expand their scale of production, which is meeting growing domestic demand for goods, but also providing goods for the export market.
“In addition, we have set up a N500 billion non-oil export stimulation facility with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM). This initiative will also help to enable greater exports of processed agriculture commodities into other markets in Africa and in the global market.”
Emefiele, however, added that improving the business environment in Nigeria would be vital if the country was to harness the gains from AFCFTA.
According to him, the CBN, through its Trade Monitoring System portal (TRMS), has been helping to reduce the time it takes to complete the export documentation process, as the faster turnaround time could help to reduce delivery time for goods destined for exports and enable businesses to expand their output.
“Today, businesses can complete their NXP applications on the TRMS portal in 30 minutes relative to two years ago, where it could take as much as two weeks to complete the process.
“We are also working with stakeholders in repositioning the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, which would help to support greater trade for operators in these vital sectors earlier mentioned.
“Once the exchange becomes fully operational in the second half of the year, international buyers of raw and processed agricultural commodities will be able to enter into forward contracts with domestic suppliers on the exchange, and they can be assured of not only the quality of the goods sold through the exchange, but on the expected date of delivery.
“We believe these forward contracts will help to support improved productivity for farmers and agro-processors, it will also help to improve access to credit for these entities using the forward contracts as collateral,” he added.
According to him, supporting greater trade within Africa will also require the presence of a viable payment settlement system. He added that the CBN is working with key stakeholders in Africa, particularly AfreximBank, to improve the underlying payment infrastructure to support greater intra-regional trade, through the Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS).