By Edu Abade
If projections are anything to go by, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Deposit Money Banks (DMOs), exporters and stakeholders have mooted the possibility of earning 50 percent of the country’s foreign exchange (Forex) in Nigeria’s non-oil export value chains.
This was the position of stakeholders in the country’s export sector at the second edition of CBN’s RT200 NON-Oil Export Summit organised by the apex bank in collaboration with the Bankers Committee and stakeholders in Lagos on Tuesday.
Speaking at the summit in her welcome address, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability (FSS) of the CBN, Mrs Aishah Ahmad, pointed out that in the first quarter of 2022, the country earned over N2.5 billion from non-oil exports.
Maintaining that one of the five pillars of the RT200 initiative was to engage with stakeholders on pertinent issues, challenges and prospects of the non-oil exports value chain, she added that the country’s foreign exchange market has been very susceptible to oil volatilities, remittances and lack of a robust non-oil export sector in the country.
Also in his keynote address, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the country has been confronted with several challenges exacerbated by growing internal and external factors.
According to him, a significant part of the challenges has been the over-dependence on crude oil as a major source of foreign exchange earnings for the economy, which has been largely distorted by the vagaries of oil prices and production dynamics.
“To address some of these challenges, the CBN has been implementing several non-conventional, supportive and complementary macro-economic policy actions towards restoring the economy to its growth trajectory.
“One of the most noble recent ideas was the collaboration between the Bank and the Banker’s Committee to tackle the challenges of significant decline of foreign exchange flows to the country through the development of a market-based financing mechanism to boost non-oil sector capacity to attract foreign exchange flows.
“Consequently, the CBN with the support of the Banker’s Committee introduced the RT200 programme in February 2022. It is aimed at raising $200 billion in foreign exchange earnings in the next three to five years strictly from non-oil exports.”
Stressing the need for Nigeria to develop its non-oil sector business and earnings capacity, he said most developing nations have since identified export as a leading priority for their indigenous firms and several countries have developed export-oriented trade strategies and extensive assistance programs to encourage export expansion.
Citing economists like Krueger 1978, Bhagwati 1978 and Feder 1982, he noted that their works have shown that export promotion, especially in developing nations, remains a superior development strategy in accelerating productivity, improving foreign exchange earnings and achieving overall growth.
“Against this backdrop, several developing nations embarked on aggressive export promotion to increase their productivity, improve on their foreign exchange earnings, and increase their income level.
“Nigeria cannot be an exception particularly given the huge natural and material resources endowment she possesses. Therefore, it is not only appropriate but also makes economic sense to embrace this policy thrust well anchored on sound economic policy and proven economic theory,” he stated.
He further explained that at the launch of the initiative, he promised that the apex bank shall be having a bi-annual conference to review its performance, adding that the first conference on the biannual Non-oil Export Summit was held in June this year with great enthusiasm from all stakeholders and was aimed at improving non-oil export process and removing some of the bottlenecks in the export value-chain.
“Today we are gathered again for the second edition of the summit with the theme: RT200 Non-Oil Export Programme: The Journey So Far to review our achievements since the first summit and examine the results of the collaborative efforts by all stakeholders in the export value chain and areas for further improvement and collaborations.”
He also commended commercial banks, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), as well as the Nigerian exporters whom he described as hardworking in flying the Nigerian flag everywhere for making the programme a success.
“When we proposed a rebate payment on every repatriated foreign exchange into the country used for own expenses or sold at the I&E window, some may have doubted our resolve to meet and sustain the obligation.
“However, events in the last three quarters have shown that when the CBN makes a commitment, it keeps its commitment to the last later. In 2022, a total of $4.987 billion has been repatriated into the country by non-oil exporters, higher than the $3.190 billion repatriated in 2021. Of the amount, only $1.966 billion qualified for the rebate programme, but only $1.559 billion was sold at the I&E window or for personal use,” he said.
Emefiele further explained that the CBN also paid out about N81 billion rebates to hardworking Nigerian exporters, adding: “This is a testament to the CBN’s resolve to ensure quick acceleration of the export value chain in the country. I know that there have been calls to make all exporters eligible for the rebate and not just limiting it to finished and semi-finished products.
“While we see some justification for this, one of the goals of the RT200 programme is to help quicken the process of industrialisation and encourage exporters to earn more from their export businesses.”
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