NEPC targets export expansion with N50bn facility

Victor Uzoho

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has said the implementation of its N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP), will significantly boost the country’s trade by leveraging the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) Network.

EEFP is expected to significantly raise the volume of non-oil exports in Nigeria, and is a spin-off of the Federal Government’s Zero Oil Plan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that The EEFP is a part of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), being promoted by the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is also focused on cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the non-oil export sector, thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new ones.

It added that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, had earlier in March, inaugurated the EEFP, and the first online Grant Management Portal (GMP) for non-oil exports.

The report quoted the Executive Director of NEPC, Mr Segun Awolowo, who is also the inaugural President of the ECOWAS TPOs as saying that the Network is geared towards increasing the volume of trade within the region.

At the launch of the Network a week ago, Osinbajo reiterated the need to expand intra-regional trade in the ECOWAS sub-region, given the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Similarly, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Mr Tei Konzi, had stressed the importance of the TPOs in accessing new markets and establishing linkages between local and international businesses.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, and an important means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To this end, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), together with International Trade Centre (ITC), and World Trade Organisation (WTO), provides and updates the trade-related Global Indicators of the SDGs targets, namely 17.10, 17.11, and 17.12.

The ITC Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, who described the launch of the TPO Network as a milestone for the region, said: “As a network you can learn from each other, support growth into each other’s markets, invest in shared information assets, and amplify the voice of TPOs and the private sector as champions of the Africa of tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, besides providing financial support for the average Nigerian exporter, the EEFP will engender the establishment of top-notch warehouses in the country, close to airports where locally made goods meant for export will be packaged to global competitive standards ahead of their exportation.

As a network you can learn from each other, support growth into each other’s markets, invest in shared information assets, and amplify the voice of TPOs and the private sector as champions of the Africa of tomorrow.

The EEPF consists of 16 programmes under seven work streams, as approved in the Implementation Work Plan, which include Capacity Building, Emergency Interventions, Export Aggregation, Export Inclusion, Export Trade facilitation, Institutional Strengthening, and Market Development.

The scheme will support existing exporters in responding to shocks caused by COVID-19, while helping to penetrate identified export markets as value chain analysis for priority products, leveraging the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), and other trade treaties.

The programme, which anticipated about 500 beneficiaries from its inauguration, has received more than 3,500 applications for the grant, out of which more than 2,000 were verified after meeting the eligibility criteria even as further details and plans on disbursement to final successful beneficiaries are being awaited.

The EEFP targets mainly to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector given the significant role in growing the Nigerian economy, while also benefiting from the Export Development Fund (EDF).

More so, Adebayo said that aside from being an intervention to save and create jobs, the programme would support resilience in shoring up foreign exchange, diversification, modernisation of Nigeria’s economy and acceleration of economic growth and economic support.

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