President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that N785 billion funding support has been disbursed over the past three years to encourage domestic production and exports.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Lagos International Trade Fair, explained that some of the programmes include the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the Federal Government of Nigeria Special Intervention Fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the N150bn targeted credit facility.
He said the public sector will continue to drive investment into infrastructure development, encourage access to low-cost financing and provide fiscal incentives to companies wishing to manufacture products for sale, adding that these incentives include: three to five-year tax holidays for enterprises; tax-free operations and capital allowances for agriculture, manufacturing and engineering within our free trade zones.
He added that Nigeria’s international trade was currently doing well with a trade surplus between January and June of 2022 in excess of N3.2 trillion, pointing out that AfCFTA would give the nation a better opportunity to do so much better.
“As you are aware, Nigeria has signed and ratified the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This agreement will dramatically boost intra-African trade and is expected to deliver an integrated continental market, consisting of 1.3 billion consumers. This is a great opportunity for Nigeria,” he said.
He stated that to achieve economic development, the public and private sectors must work together.
“The private sector can help boost the demand for Nigerian products by aggressively pursuing value addition and increasing the quality of exported goods originating from our country. This trade fair is a great opportunity to showcase Nigeria’s capacity to produce to international standards and also to export,” he added.
He however stated that the essence of trade themed ‘Connecting businesses, creating value’ portrays the realisation of the action plan of the present administration.
“We all know the important role that trade plays in stimulating our economy and driving sustainable development. Through increased trade, our goals of job creation, GDP growth, increased foreign exchange earnings and reduced insecurity are actualised. The development of export trade takes this a step further and helps our nation reach its economic diversification goals,” he said.
He stressed that the federal government has taken the much-needed steps to improve the trading environment, some of which include the creation of Special Economic Zones.
“We have 17 operational Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with 4 more currently under construction. 14 of these are general economic zones which support export processing, large-scale manufacturing, warehousing, logistic services, tourism, food processing and packaging and technology development; the remaining 3 are dedicated to oil & gas-related activities,” he averred.
He noted that the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment is reviewing and updating Nigeria’s National trade policy in order to firmly establish Nigeria as a worldwide trading hub and a regional leader, maintaining that the policy will aim to maximise the nation’s economic output, expand infrastructural development, promote business growth, industrialisation and entrepreneurship.
“While we take these strides, it is important that all national policy makers, business leaders and trade development partners know that the synergy and cooperation between all parties is cardinal to enhancing trade in Nigeria. Through effective partnerships, governance and help from our friends in the private sector, the sky is the limit,” he said.
Also speaking, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu restated his administration’s commitment to prioritising the growth and development of MSME to further drive the economic growth and development of the state.
Sanwo-Olu, who described MSMEs as the heartbeat of any economy, said their development was critical particularly in the face of the current harsh global uncertainties posed by COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine- Russian war.
He assured that his government would continue to create policies that would deliberately engender ease of doing business to enable the state to attract investments and allow businesses to thrive.
According to him, the state would not rest on its oars until businesses are properly positioned and Lagos becomes the biggest economy.
He also encouraged public-private partnership to drive infrastructural and other developments in sectors such as health, education and others.
“This is to utilise the resources trapped in private sector. We would continue to ensure ease of doing business deliberately to help investors with planning and risk taking to further increase job employment opportunities. As a government, we would continue to look at what we can do to engage our youths and we are creating a platform for new start up innovation for our creative minds.
“We are creating an ecosystem and providing grants to help start ups and MSME through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). All of these interventions and funding are available and we implore MSME to take advantage of them to address brain drain,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu added that the state was tackling issues around climate change and stressed the need for innovation to address the development.
Earlier, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Michael Olawale-Cole, said the economic conditions have been challenging even as the economy sustains recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and now navigating through the shocks from the Russia-Ukraine war, and recently climate change shocks in the form of devastating floods across the country.
He noted that while the Nigerian economy has recorded some impressive growth figures this year showing a sustained recovery of the economy, there are heightening fears of recession, food insecurity and more climate change impacts.
“As investors, we need to continue to demonstrate our resilience and determination to forge ahead despite these challenges. As a chamber, we have strong confidence in the Nigerian economy, and we believe we would meet our growth target for this year. The LCCI’s trade fairs, specialized exhibitions, and several business events are some of the many ways we support trade and commerce in the economy,” he said.
He pointed out that the Chamber is committed to the vision of the current administration in respect of economic diversification and self-reliance.
“It is encouraging to note the efforts of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment in reviewing Nigeria’s National Trade Policy last updated in 2002. We are expecting a new national trade policy that can respond to the dynamics and new realities of the global trade system in terms of the evolution of global production networks and global value chains.
“We commend the recently launched Special Agro Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) Programme, by the federal government and supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, as co-financiers. The SAPZ is expected to mobilise private sector investments to develop value chains for selected crops and livestock starting with the eight participating states. We look forward to an increase in export trade of agro-processed products across the continent and boosting intra-African trade under the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA),” he added.