Emefiele seeks NPA, Customs collaboration on dedicated route for non-oil exports

Godwin Emefiele

. Says FX challenges beyond policy interventions

To ease current challenges, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appealed to the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to collaborate on the establishment of a dedicated route for non-oil exports.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made the appeal yesterday at the maiden RT 200 Non-Oil Export Summit in Lagos, themed, “Setting the roadmap toward achieving RT200 and non-oil export for development.”

Emefiele said such collaboration has become imperative to stem capital flight from the economy arising from unnecessary delays at Nigerian ports, leading exporters to take their goods to neighbouring countries such as Accra and Benin Republic.

He noted that the global economic challenges had impacted manufacturing and food production among others, which had exerted undue pressure on the economy, thereby exposing the fragility of the Nigerian economy and making macroeconomic management very difficult.

FX scarcity

Emefiele argued that such economic crises resulting from a combination of local and global factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in global logistic value chains and internal security issues have exacerbated foreign exchange (FX) scarcity, which continues to impede business growth.

As a result, he said Nigeria is in dire need of all the revenue it could muster, adding: “We need those export proceeds badly.”

He argued that monetary policy alone cannot solve all the burden of the expected adjustments needed to manage the challenges to the Nigerian economy.

“These problems call for urgent design and steadfast implementation of other supportive, structural, and complementary policies that are broad based, coordinated and focused on complementing the work of the monetary authority,” he insisted.

Emefiele continued: “We are just lucky to have Nigeria Ports, customs here. I want to appeal to both parties that we form and establish a working group comprising the banker’s committee, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, maybe a shipping line to resolve issues

“We have heard of people who want to export goods out of Nigeria queuing for months before their goods can go out. Time is against us. In the short run, what can NPA and Customs do for the exporters – whether you want to create a dedicated route where they can easily export their goods?

“It is sad that because of the problem of trying to find an easy route for goods to be exported out of the country, Nigerian exporters now prefer to transport by road.

“I even hear some of them transport from Lagos to Accra or Benin Republic, and then export goods from there. Doing this, we lose the opportunity of those export proceeds.”

These problems call for urgent design and steadfast implementation of other supportive, structural, and complementary policies that are broad based, coordinated and focused on complementing the work of the monetary authority.

Economic diversification

Also speaking, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, reiterated the need for economic diversification, saying: “We can do a lot to strengthen the naira and our external reserves by focusing on our non-oil exports. This diversification also gives us immunity from the severe shock of depending on a limited pool of exports.”

He said that Nigeria needs to shift from its overdependence on oil and gas, to agricultural produce, solid minerals, chemical products, furniture and clothing as well as tourism, among others.

To this end, Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism that the Lekki Deep Seaport, reputed as the largest in West Africa, will become operational by the year end, and will boost export activities, and ultimately improve the country’s export earnings.

While commending the CBN for the RT200 FX Scheme and other laudable initiatives, Sanwo-Olu informed that in efforts to decongest the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, the State Government was awaiting approval for work to commence on the Badagry Port, to boost trade and tourism activities in Lagos.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, CBN, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, said the RT 200 Non-Oil Exports Summit was a promise kept by Emefiele at the launch of the programme in February.

He explained that the RT 200 policy was designed to incentivize exporters in the non-oil export sector to repatriate and sell their export proceeds in the local FX market.

He added that despite the high inflation rate, Nigeria was not doing badly compared to its peers in other emerging economies.

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