Despite the inability of West African countries, especially Nigeria, to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by the European Union (EU), member-countries of the EU have sought new alternatives to improve bilateral ties with the country.
With non-oil exports to the EU still remaining low at three per cent or €965 million, compared to oil exports value of €28.2 billion, stakeholders in the non-oil sector are exploring opportunities at improving access to the European markets for Nigerian commodities.
Speaking at a dialogue session on international trade organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), recently, LCCI President, Dr. Nike Akande explained that many countries have recorded sustainable growth and development through an export–led strategy, hence, effective venturing into international trade is expected to also assist Nigeria get sustained growth at the rates needed to make a visible impact on poverty reduction.
According to her, Nigeria has become an investment hub for many investors from around the world, as the rich multicultural heritage of the country inherent in its diverse ethnicity creates a large and attractive market for any aspiring investor.
She noted that for the nation to take full advantage of trade relations, there is a need for the country to strengthen its competitiveness.
She said, “We need to create the enabling environment to make businesses operating in the country competitive. We need to fix the supply side issues such as infrastructure, which is a major source of competitiveness challenge in many developing countries.”
Trade Counsellor, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Filippo Amato stated that Nigeria’s value of exports declined by 40.3 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014, that is from N16.3 trillion in 2014 to N9.7 trillion in 2015), adding that it further declined by 34 per cent in Q1 2016, compared to Q4 2015, as balance of trade in Q1 was negative, at N184 billion.
To improve non-oil exports to the EU, Amato explained that exporters need to understand EU import requirements (general and specific), taxes and EU tariffs, preferential arrangements (all trade agreements with their conditions for products) as well as available trade statistics.
“The dried beans saga (less then 0.1% of Nigerian non-oil exports to the EU); an export control plan has to be put in place and implemented. Export of animal and animal products to the EU (honey, aquaculture, eggs, bovine/ovine meat, etc.) is possible but a residue monitoring plan must be drafted, implemented and submitted to the EU.
“Nigeria is currently not authorised to export any animal products to the EU, while 13 African countries are. This necessitates the need for strong commitment and coordination of private and public sectors”, he added.
Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, while speaking on “Making Lagos State the Preferred Hub of Investment” said the State’s development objectives position it for investment inflow even as the present administration is making efforts at improving the business environment.
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