The coast may be clear for Nigerian exporters of non oil products, as the Federal Government says it has concluded plans to settle the outstanding $670.25 million it owes the international body, Export Expansion Grant (EEG) by the end of March 2017.
The EEG suspended Nigeria from all its activities since 2013 after the Federal Government failed to cooperate with the agency in giving needed support incentives for exports in addition to not meeting its obligations.
But given the disclosure by Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, at the weekend that the Presidency had given approval that the outstanding debt be cleared before the end of March 2017, many exporters have expressed readiness to resume business on that line.
They said the assurance by the NEPC boss that there is a renewed plan, aimed at reviving the export scheme, originally programmed to increase non-oil export goods from the country, there is hope that the sector would soon bounce back.
According to Awolowo, the urgent need to see the country attain zero oil export feat is still achievable in 2017, given the fact that the Federal Government has given approval to have all outstanding debts, owed to both local and international organisations connected with the export scheme, be issued with sovereign/promissory notes, an internationally acceptable financial instrument for transactions at all levels.
He frowned at the situation, whereby local manufacturers produce only for the local markets as against aiming at improving on Nigeria’s trade in the international market.
But despite the promise of reviving the export trade, the reservations of the real sector over Nigeria’s involvement in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being proposed to Nigeria and other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries by European Union (EU) has continued to duck the scheme.
Speaking at the Nigerian Norwegian Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly business roundtable in Lagos, recently, Head of Trade and Economics section, EU Common Embassy in Nigeria, Filippo Amato, acknowledged that some dust had been raised over the EPA.
Amato was quick in stating that the programme is a development initiative to reduce the high rate of migration of Africans to Europe in search of greener pastures, thereby also putting pressure on available resources in the EU countries.
Citing the safeguard measures put in place to guard against abuse of the EPA, Filippo urged the Federal Government to consider the ratification of the trade deal as soon as possible.
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