BusinessDay: New trade policy will help diversify Nigeria’s economy

The Head, Trade Policy and Facilitation, German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Mr Alexander Werth, said on Thursday that Nigeria was on the verge of diversifying its economy with new trade policy.

Werth told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that Nigeria would overcome dependency on oil to earn foreign exchange as it diversified into industry and agribusiness.

According to him, the new trade policy is trying to ensure that Nigeria moves away from oil to non-oil sectors.

“This dependency on oil revenue can be reduced by diversifying the Nigerian economy and I think this is what the trade policy is trying to do. To move away from oil to the non-oil sectors, to value added sectors, industry and agribusiness sector.

“You should not put your eggs in one basket.  If there are some negative impacts in one sector, you might be able to compensate this in another sector which might benefit now from a lower (devalued) naira,” he said.

Werth said the viability of other sector of the economy would help the country ward off the negative impact of oil sector.

He said that GIZ had been supporting the ministry of Industry Trade and Investment with a view to coming up with a modern trade policy and strategy for the country.

Werth said the policy must define the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

He said further that GIZ had a programme called “Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria (SEDIN)” through which it supports the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the country.

Werth said the programme would run till 2017 in the bid to strengthen the capacity of the MSMEs for competitiveness.

“We are also getting money from the European Union (EU) under the Strengthening Nigerian Trade Support Institutions (SNTSI) programme. That programme is mostly funded by EU and implemented by GIZ- SEDIN based on similar objective.

“What we are trying to do in the ministry of trade is that we are trying to build their capacity to be able to do better what they are supposed to do. This requires training of staff and also helping the ministry’s trade department to become more efficient in the coordination of stakeholders’ meetings,” he said.

According to Werth, “we also work with the Nigeria Customs Service and the organised Private sector including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) among others.

He further explained that GIZ was simply ensuring that the organised private sector played an active role in policy processes and worked with business membership organisations such as MAN.

“If you are a registered Nigerian company, with your products, you would be allowed to trade them within ECOWAS region without having to pay customs duties. So, what we are trying to do is to increase the number of ETLS registered companies in Nigeria,” he said.

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