COVID-19 to slow cocoa, cashew exports, says NEPC

COVID-19 to slow cocoa, cashew exports, says NEPC
Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, had last week stated that the government was now set to clear the EEG arrears to exporters from 2007 to 2016.

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council says an assessment of the impact of coronavirus on agricultural exports shows that the pandemic will lead to a fall in export of cocoa beans, cashew nuts and sesame seeds this year.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, while speaking at a webinar themed ‘Non-oil exports: Disrupting Nigeria’s growth cycle’ on Thursday, noted that based on commodity prices and market trends, fall in sesame seed export would be minimal.

According to him, the crash in oil prices as a result of the pandemic is an indication that a mono-product economy is not sustainable and that there is an urgent need to develop non-oil export.

“We cannot rely on crude oil export as both our major source of government revenue and foreign exchange generation. We must diversify our export base,” Awolowo said.

He identified the export of services as a rapidly growing export industry that could generate more revenue for the government.

To ease the burden of non-oil export during the coronavirus pandemic, Awolowo suggested realigning the exporters’ foreign exchange window with the prevailing forex rate.

He called on the government to ensure special clearance for non-oil export at the ports; acceleration of EEG claims; to waive port levies and offer tax holiday for non-oil exporters, among other incentives.

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, Ms Yewande Sadiku, called on relevant government agencies to provide the necessary bottlenecks for some sectors that had been made profitable and attractive by the pandemic.

She said financial and tax incentives would be preferred by investors in these sectors and where the government could not provide tax incentives, investor care incentives could be explored.

On her part, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, stated that to reduce time spent by exporters at the ports, exporters should commence and conclude the documentation process before their cargo reached the ports.

According to her, the NPA is working with the Lagos and Ogun state governments on the provision of dedicated parks for trucks to ease congestion on the roads leading to the ports.

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