Stakeholders in the non-oil export business have asked the government to focus on addressing challenges in the domestic market so as to boost the country’s potentials to export and earn foreign exchange.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the PDF Non-oil exporters’ dialogue, which was held via web conference, the operators stressed the need to provide enabling environment and boost local production and patronage as preparatory steps towards achieving a robust non-oil export strategy for the country.
They also complained about lack of assistance from agencies of government who regulate export activities, leading to their inability to record success in their trade.
Food Technologist/Chief Executive, Tiger Foods, Mr. Don Ebubeogu said if the domestic market is relegated, the export market will also suffer.
He said: “Until you take care of the domestic market, they’ll continue to put pressure on the export market because you won’t be able to have enough to export. It is only when we have surplus in the domestic market that we will be able to export whatever into the export market.
“I have been monitoring what Nigeria has been trying to do in terms of increasing the volume of export market.
“But if we take a cue from what the Indian government has done. India increased the volume of exports to about $2 billion and if you look at their production which is about 1.6 million tons, it is only about 10 per cent of that that is going to the export market.” Also, President, Leather Association of Nigeria,
Mr. Okechukwu Williams, stressed the need to satisfy the local market, lamenting that, “our local markets are flooded with second hand products from China.”
He said currently, finished products in Aba enjoy only 20 per cent of the local market share while Chinese leather products enjoy 54 per cent market share of the local market.
He called for funding support from both public and private sectors to enable the industry upgrade its equipment to enable it compete globally.
Williams said: “The leather industry had been neglected in the past only recent intervention the governor and senator in trying to provide. We lack technological enhancement to improve production.
“We need support from OPS to acquire basic machine to enhance productivity.
When this is done, I think we will be ready for the global market. For now, we think the competition is very high to compete with brands like Gucci the basic technology enhancement and so a lot needs to be done.”
Also speaking, Creative Director/Founder, Le Look Nig Limited, Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa, said “if the local market is not taken care of, I don’t know what type of export market that we are going to be actually talking about because Nigerian government knows a lot about importing second hand clothing than they know about reviving the textile industry.
“And they know how to key into WTO conventions that had marginalised these sectors since 1995. They were too hasty in entering that convention to the detriment of our country. “There are walls that exporters face in trying to send out their goods. I have always maintained that business is war and have enemies on all the fronts and I think all the government agencies in some ways are enemies to exporters.”
However, responding to allegations that regulatory agencies were not doing enough to support exporters, Director General, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isegbe, said the export trade is not an all-comers business but requires operators to prepare adequately before delving into the business.
He stressed the need for self-regulation among the players through their cooperative associations to be able to weather the storm in export business.
Isegbe said: “It is important to form cooperatives or associations to ensure self-regulation. It is this absence of self-regulation that most people who have something to do with government think that the government regulatory bodies are very strict or overbearing and not in support of export trade.
“In other climes, this self-regulation ensures that a lot of work is done at the background with the cooperation of the regulatory body so that at the end of the day business moves on seamlessly.”