To achieve this, NEPC partnered two great institutions: the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).Prior to this development, Awolowo had assured on resumption in March that he would intensify efforts at improving the contribution of non-oil exports to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.
According to him, his reappointment afforded another opportunity to continue NEPC’s drive towards a zero oil economy, hinged on the accelerated development of the country’s non-oil sector.
“This will be enhanced by the implementation of the Zero Oil pillar of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and buoyed by the recently launched National Economic Council Committee on Export Promotion,” he added.
He said the recent partnerships were indeed steps in the right direction as they would facilitate the stated resolve.
Affirming this, Awolowo, while speaking on the partnership with NACC, said the initiative was to boost Nigeria’s non-oil export through the provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
The NEPC boss said it was regrettable that non-oil export trade between Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) had remained abysmally low at two per cent, but assured that with the partnership and different initiatives of the council, Nigeria would ramp up the non-oil export figures.
Giving the assurance during a courtesy visit to NACC to seek partnership on the way forward for Nigeria’s non-oil sector, Awolowo also stated: “There is still a lot to be achieved in driving the non-oil sector export, and the council has put up different initiatives to ensure that Nigeria optimizes AGOA before its expiration.”
He disclosed that the federal government had created a national committee for export promotion to drive its zero-oil plan, saying that the National Economic Council (NEC)-chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, with the 36 state governors as members would go a long way to boosting productivity in the nation’s non-oil export sector in a bid to get goods exported to the US.
Justifying the partnership, Awolowo stated: “We are here because the chamber is going to be important to increase our non-oil export to the US. We need you to explore the possibility of investment into priority areas for development of our export”.
According to him, Nigeria has been a good receiver of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from USA, but the FDIs may have gone into the financial services, telecommunications and ICT.
He, therefore, said: “We need more investment in manufacturing and industry because these are the real investments. This will be the major focus where we want your organization to help us. We also need to improve the quality of our products, and we are also going to need your support to expose how we can meet the American standards.”
Earlier, the president, NACC- Otunba Oluwatoyin Akomolafe- said the chamber has been working very closely with the council to seek ways of adopting a prepared AGOA implementation strategy. He added that the Chamber would appreciate increased senior representation on the AGOA committee at the Ministry of Trade.
Akomolafe stated further:“ We want you to support us. There are plans to make Nigeria the centre for AGOA in Africa. So, we need to really work very closely together”.
The NACC president stressed that the need for partnership for promotion of AGOA through capacity building and awareness creation cannot be overemphasized, just as he canvassed the identification of clusters of local producers and benchmarking of successes made over time.
He added that most of the African countries that have done well in AGOA have all implemented a well-articulated national AGOA strategy.
“This is why we developed over a year ago a national strategy for Nigeria. We want an implementable strategy. We call it a five-year strategy programme, where on a yearly basis, we measure the level of success we have made. However, the chamber cannot approve a national AGOA strategy. That is why we are seeking the support of the Ministry of Trade through this partnership with the council,” he said.
Speaking on the partnership with UNIDO, Awolowo disclosed that it was part of a series of capacity building and awareness programmes all targeted at ensuring that non-oil exports are globally competitive through quality assurance and hitch- free export.
Specifically, he said at the sensitisation workshop on implementation of the Export Control Plan on Dried Beans Export, that the move was an additional effort by the council at reducing the incidence of rejection of agricultural exports to European Union and other parts of the world.
The partnership, he explained further, had become imperative to address European Union’s suspension of the export of Nigeria’s dried beans due to its high pesticide residue which he said was far above the Maximum Residual Level (MRL).
He disclosed that UNIDO under the National Quality Infrastructure Project (NQIP) had so far been partnering the council on a series of activities to address the ban.