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FirstBank, others partner to reposition non-oil export for economic growth

Firstbank Headquarters

First Bank Nigeria Ltd. says it will leverage its vast experience in supporting trade businesses, especially the SME to support the Federal Government’s efforts to diversify the revenue base of the economy.

Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, said this yesterday, during the bank’s Non-Oil Webinar Series.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the webinar was titled; “Roadmap to Building Sustainable Non-Oil Export in Nigeria: Harnessing AfCFTA and Agro Commodities.”

Adeduntan noted that the bank would leverage its expertise to drive discussions that would enable existing exporters to expand their export businesses and also encourage new entrants into the non-oil export industry.

According to him, the non-oil sector holds tremendous value and opportunities for the country to enhance job and wealth creation, foreign exchange earnings and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

He noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) presents an opportunity for Nigeria to be deliberate, and position it appropriately as Africa’s export hub.

“This can be achieved considering our population, resources and economic size.

“At FirstBank, we have been at the front burner of driving economic growth, and we will use our reach and connection to orchestrate growth in the non-oil sector,” he said.

Adeduntan said that to drive the goal, the bank had created an Export Desk to support the needs of exporters, including designing export products and solutions to cater for pre and post export financing and services.

Also, Dr Biodun Adedipe, Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., said that the country needs to change its orientation to an export-led growth or import substitution economy.

Adedipe noted that the world that Nigeria operated pre COVID-19 pandemic was fast disappearing, stressing the need to give more attention to the country’s non-oil export industry.

According to him, there is a need to build supporting infrastructure to aid export business, as deliberately done by China toward boosting economic growth, while aggressive targets should be set and rigorous measures implemented.

“If Nigeria does not act, other countries will act on us,” he said.

The non-oil sector holds tremendous value and opportunities for the country to enhance job and wealth creation, foreign exchange earnings and gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Zero oil

Commenting, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr Ezra Yakusak, said the Council in 2016, developed the zero oil plan as a strategy to shore up foreign exchange in the non-oil sector.

Yakusak, represented by one of his Deputy Directors, Folorunsho Akintunde, said through this plan export policies for 22 major products that could generate $30 billion annually was evolved.

According to him, the Council is preparing and positioning SMEs for AfCFTA through various training, programmes and incentives.

He said the NEPC is also working closely with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and ITC, to ensure that Nigeria was ready for AfCFTA, especially on the Export Trading Company.

Also, the Customs Area Controller, Apapa, Comptroller Malanta Yusuf, advised exporters to familiarise themselves with items allowed to be exported and those on prohibited lists.

He also counselled them on clear description of goods and proper packaging to facilitate acceptance of goods.

Also speaking, Regional Chief Operating Officer, Anglophone West Africa, Afreximbank, Eric Intong, said the bank developed various products, programmes and initiatives to boost intra-African Trade.

Intong said to support AfCFTA, the bank would spend $40 billion in intra-Africa trade and investment over the next five years, which he said is twice the amount disbursed for the same purpose in the last two years.

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