Dr John Isemede, an international export professional, has urged the Federal Government to identify and present made-in-Nigeria products with export potential to maximise the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Isemede, who is also a former Director General (D-G), National Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
He called for a National Trade Fair dedicated to only Made-in-Nigeria products and services through which the Federal Government could identify products, develop and market them through the AfCFTA platform.
The former D-G said the country should take advantage of its number one position in the production of cashew nuts, cassava, yam, beans among others in the AfCFTA.
“I want to propose a national Trade Fair in Abuja for just Made-in-Nigeria products, to see if we are export ready or not,” Isemede said.
He also advised that there should be linkages in the value chain of trade from production, logistics, packaging, processing and marketing.
Isemede said the Federal Government should focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with export potential, because they were the engine of economic growth.
He advised that the export incentives for the manufacturing sector should be targeted at SMEs to boost the contribution of the manufacturing sector to Nigeria’s GDP, which he said was relatively low.
“Multinationals are not interested in export, most of them are still going with the Berlin conference of 1884. They came into this country to take advantage of the over 200 million consumers.
“If you look at the brewery sector, it made over N1 trillion from local sales, how many of the breweries have export package or export managers or budget for export activities?
“The hope is on the SMEs, like the ‘Asian Tigers,’ if we are serious on this matter, we should avoid going the way of AGOA and other trade agreements in the past,” he said.
He called for a proper alignment of trade agreements signed by the Federal Government, and that there should be synergy between Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for proper coordination and communication.
He urged the government to reconstitute the AfCFTA implementation committee by bringing on board experts who would know where to and how to direct incentives and support to see the clear returns on AfCFTA.
He decried Nigeria’s inability to review its foreign trade policy meant to be reviewed every four years.
“Nigeria has foreign policy, trade policy and economic diplomacy. We also have the foreign policy strategy but we do not have foreign policy title trade.
“Nigeria has not signed trade policy in over 20 years and that is not good enough considering that we have been signing trade agreements.
“We need to begin to review the country’s foreign policy to better position us for international trades,” he said. (NAN)