The Federal Government has marked out 13 National Strategic Export Products meant to replace petroleum products, which prices have continued to tumble in the international markets, threatening the stability of the Nigerian economy.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Trade and Investments, Olusegun Aganga.
This is part of the spirited moves by the government towards reviving the dwindling national economy with emphasis on rapid growth of the non-oil sector for exports.
Aganga disclosed this during an unscheduled inspection and a meeting he held with the Executive Director of the Nigerian Exports Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, and members of the management team in Abuja.
While unveiling plans by the Federal Government for diversifying the economy, Aganga listed the 13 National Strategic Export Products in three categories.
These are: Agroindustrial: Palm Oil, Cocoa, Cashew, Sugar and Rice); Mining Related: Cement, Iron ore/metals, Auto parts/cars, Aluminium; and Oil and Gas Industrial Products: Petroleum products, fertilizer/Urea, Petrochemical and Methanol.
Aganga noted that originally, 12 products were identified, but the number increased because Awolowo made a very strong case for the inclusion of Cashew in the list.
Aganga, however, charged NEPC to deploy its capacity for kick-starting the diversification of the country’s economy in line with the government’s agenda.
Aganga said he chose NEPC and SMEDAN for his first visit in the New Year because of their potential and strategic importance for diversification of the economy, job creation, poverty alleviation and inclusive growth.
The strategy to be deployed in that regard, according to him, requires that NEPC identifies products that are being imported by countries from other exporting nations and to develop the products with sound logistics built around them.
The essence, the Minister stressed, is to deliver them cheaper to the neighbouring countries, being an export oriented investment strategy.
He said: “In doing this, we must recognize our neighborus’ developmental needs, support them and collaborate with them in areas of their comparative advantage.
“For you to have sustainable relationship, there must be symbiotic in relationship.
“The new strategic focus is not just Agriculture but rather commodities based industrialization.
“This will help our economy to diversify quickly and sustainably.
“Such strategy will help build industrial sector that can diversify our economy in just few years.”
Aganga tasked Awolowo on the need for NEPC to work towards earning big income for Nigeria by focusing on products and services that will yield quick results in few years with a view to assisting Nigeria earn foreign exchange.
Responding, Awolowo thanked the Minister for the visit and in particular for his support to the Council’s activities and projects.
He noted that NEPC under his leadership had long recognised the need to develop the non-oil export sub-sector and had in the process held series of strategic meetings with stakeholders for the development of ideas aimed at improving the foreign exchange earnings by Nigeria through different avenues.
These, he said, includes the development of a four-year Strategic Plan, One State One Product, Nigerian Diaspora Export Programme and the development of New markets for New products.
Others, he said, include Special initiatives on the sub regional (ECOWAS) markets, multi-stakeholders’ engagement of the export community, especially deepening of relationship with key stakeholders such as MAN, NACCIMA, Chambers of Commerce, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, USAID, ITC, TAITRA (Taiwan) among several others initiatives.
Awolowo assured Aganga that he would do his best in collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure an increasing the foreign exchange earnings by Nigeria with a view to reducing the effects of the current fall in oil prices at the international markets.
This, according to him, requires supports, funding and strategic actions.
He, however, appealed to the Minister to continue to support the Council’s quest to attract the statutory fund held by NIMASA and the final resolution of the problem associated with the utilization of NDDCs by exporters.