A Better World - Volume 7

[ 22 ] A Bet ter Wor ld Maximizing opportunities in global partnerships to promote the non-oil export trade Nigerian Export Promotion Council P rior to the discovery of crude oil in the late 1950s, the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy was the export of agricul- tural commodities. These primary products of, among others, cocoa, rubber, groundnut and palm oil accounted for an average of 60 per cent of the country’s GDP from 1960 to 1969, generating 64.5 per cent in export earnings. With the shift to petroleum exploration from 1970 to date, the non-oil sector contribution to GDP and export earnings gradually began to decline. This has been further exacerbated by the dwindling foreign exchange earnings caused by the uncertainty in the oil economy and occasional economic reces- sion. The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) developed a Zero Oil Plan and intensified efforts to diversify the economy from oil to non-oil in order to stimulate, develop and promote trade, thereby increasing Nigeria’s market share of global non-oil exports. Since its inception, NEPC, in keeping with its vision to make the world a marketplace for Nigerian non-oil products, has been collaborating with global partners and international trade organizations to actualize its mandate. This statu- tory role is anchored in diversifying the Nigerian economy to increase the volume and value of its non-oil exports for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. This collaborative effort is specifically targeted at increas- ing trade and capacity building, particularly in the area of trade facilitation, quality and standards, and women and youth inclusiveness. This is achieved through backward inte- gration in line with SDG17, which “seeks to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partner- ship for sustainable development”. One of the significant partnerships of the NEPC — that with the International Trade Centre (ITC) — is focused on the institutional strengthening of its operations and service delivery. It defines a performance improvement roadmap by developing a corporate strategy, an outcome of which was a benchmarking review of the NEPC’s operations in line with global best practices. In 2017, together with the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), NEPC built a partnership to impact on agricultural commodities, namely cocoa, sesame and cashew, through an export competency development programme by strengthening the capacities of Small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) value chain operators. This effort led to an increase in the volume and value of non-oil export trade from Nigeria to the European Union, bringing about the economic empowerment of Nigeri- ans in line with the government’s policy on poverty reduction and job creation, especially with an emphasis on inclusive growth for women. Recently, ginger was added to the list of agricultural commodities by the CBI. A particular aspect of the NEPC- CBI partnership is the National Sustainable Ginger Platform, which is predicated on the ginger’s distinct features of aroma, pungency and high oil content. There is a need to realise the product’s high potential in order to add greater value and to diversify its market through sustainable and improved quality, international certification, organic production and refined processing. More than 80 per cent of operators in this value chain are women and youth, promising an improvement in their livelihood. Another viable initiative is the partnership between NEPC and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) on the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP). Premised on the agricultural commodities of spice, tomato, ginger and their value chains, the ultimate objective is to acquire Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification for exporting SMEs to facilitate their access to niche non-oil export markets. The UK Government, through the Prosperity Fund’s Global Trade Programme (GTP) also collaborated with NEPC in providing export intervention programmes to strengthen the capacity of NEPC export coaches and Nigerian SMEs inter- ested in exporting to the UK and other international markets. An MoU, signed by NEPC and the Deputy British High Commission (DBHC) in 2019, set the tone for healthy and improved bilateral trade relations. This seeks to explore other business potential outside the oil sector and bridge the gap that exists between Nigerian businesses and the international market, especially the United Kingdom. The intervention provided the beneficiaries with the technical knowledge required to boost economic growth and combat poverty for sustainable development. Another programme under pros- perity funds is the British Standard Institute/Commonwealth Standard Network (BSI/CSN) Exporters’ Roundtable of 2019. In 2016, a giant leap towards leveraging trade as a channel for the economic empowerment of women was executed between the NEPC and the ITC. The initiative is a strategic collaboration towards achieving a Zero Oil Growth through Women Inclusiveness in Global Export Trade. Measures