The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) was projected to give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa worth $504.17 billion in goods & $162 billion in services, totaling $666.17 billion.
Mr. Emefiele disclosed while in his remarks at the Zenith’s Bank 2021 Export Seminar held Tuesday, 20th April 2021, titled, Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity: The Role of Intra-Regional Trade and Non-Oil Exports Initiatives.
The apex bank governor noted that the volatility in the oil markets which has exposed the Nigerian economy to significant exogenous shocks, along with the growing trajectory towards lesser use of fossil fuels in the near future, by some advanced and emerging market countries, makes it imperative to significantly work to improve the country’s non-oil exports earnings.
He explained that the AFCFTA, offers significant opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets, and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of Manufacturing, ICT, Agriculture and Financial services, given our growing advantage in these areas relative to our counterparts in other parts of Africa.
“I believe that we should seize this opportunity to ensure that Nigeria serve as a significant hub for international and domestic manufacturing companies seeking to serve the West, Central and East African Markets”, he added.
The governor said, developing trade portals that could support instant sales of goods manufactured in Nigeria to consumers in other parts of Africa was one aspect that could help to support the creation of jobs in Nigeria and improve foreign exchange inflows for the country.
He said, the bank has taken considerable steps to improve the productive capacity of businesses, which would enable them take advantage of export opportunities in Africa.
“Our intervention programs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, are helping to enable businesses expand their scale of production, which is meeting growing domestic demand for goods, but also providing goods for the export market.
“In addition, we have set up a N500bn non-oil export stimulation facility with the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM). This initiative will also help to enable greater exports of processed agriculture commodities into other markets in Africa and in the global market”, he added.
The CBN boss said, improving the business environment in Nigeria was also vital to harness the gains of AFCFTA, therefore, the Bank through its Trade Monitoring System portal (TRMS) was helping to reduce the time it takes to complete the export documentation process, as faster turnaround time could help to reduce delivery time for goods destined for exports, and enable businesses expand their output.
“Today, businesses can complete their NXP applications on the TRMS portal in 30 minutes relative to two years ago, where it could take as much as two weeks to complete the process”, he said.
Emefiele said, the bank was working with stakeholders in repositioning the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, which would help to support greater trade for operators in these vital sectors earlier mentioned.
“Once the exchange becomes fully operational in the 2nd half of the year, international buyers of raw and processed agricultural commodities will be able to enter into forward contracts with domestic suppliers on the exchange, and they can be assured of not only the quality of the goods sold through the exchange, but on the expected date of delivery”, he added.
He urged existing exporters to repatriate their export proceeds as required by law to improve foreign exchange inflows into the country, adding the CBN guarantees that exporters would have unfettered access to their export proceeds.
According to him, the initiatives being put in place by the CBN would help to ensure that Nigerian businesses are able to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the African Market.