Goods produced by the Small and Medium Enterprise operators in Nigeria have received special attention in a new move to export such products to Asian and American markets.
The Nigerian Export Promotions Council and other stakeholders said it was time for the nation to take advantage of the 10-years extension of the African Growth Opportunity Act, an American policy allowing African countries to export about 7,000 products duty-free to the United States.
According to the council, the concentration is on the SME sector because it lacks access to international market, despite being a large part of the nation’s commercial community.
The Regional Director, South-West, NEPC, Mr. Babatunde Faleke, said the council was already in talks with an American cargo company, American AirSea Cargo, to move products from Nigeria’s SMEs to America and China.
“We want to take advantage of the AGOA extension to boost our exports to the US,” he said.
Part of the preparation for a seamless export and to minimise incidence of rejected goods is 10-week training for new exporters held in collaboration with Fidelity Bank.
This, the council said, was aimed at equipping exporters with knowledge of criteria and procedures of international trade.
Faleke urged state governments to join the effort by supporting the SMEs in their domains with incentives, to scale up production and value addition to goods in which they had comparative advantage.
“Governors can map out zones in their states as export zones. In addition to this, they should make their environment conducive and give incentives for small business owners. If all these are done, there will be a lot of multiplier effects.”
Stakeholders also met during a recent Fidelity Bank and Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting to discuss how to drive growth in the non-oil sector.
In his address at the meeting, the United States Commercial Counsellor, Mr. Brent Omdahl, urged Nigerian small business owners to channel their efforts into making better products.
He said that one of the economic development programmes initiated by President Barrack Obama was the United States Agency for International Development’s Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport programme, which was designed to help Nigerian businesses export their goods to the US.
He said, “Our relationship is now characterised by trade; not aid. It is one in which the US wants to work together with Nigeria. Some of the important initiatives launched to encourage trade between the US and Africa include ‘Trade Africa’, which is focused on inter-regional trade, ‘Power Africa’, which is focused on enhancing the power sector to bring more power to homes.”
An export facilitator and Chief Executive Officer of Poise Global, Miss Comfort Sakoma, identified goods made by some SMEs as having potential to be displayed in stores in America.
She however regretted the fact that under AGOA, Nigeria, with over 17 million SMEs had only been able to export $3m worth of non-oil products to the United States; while South Africa with 650,000 SMEs has exported $1.4bn worth of products in the same period.