According to the Nigerian Shippers Council said on Thursday, out of every 10 containers that come into Nigeria laden with imports, only about two or three leave the country with exports, which is not helping in the improvement of the country economy.

In order to address this, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC are joining forces on how to ensure that all containers leaving the nation’s seaports are filled up with export goods.

The two bodies said it would be good if the nation’s export is raised from the present 20 per cent to 80 per cent. peaking at an event between both agencies in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, NSC, Hassan Bello, said, “Out of 10 containers than come into Nigeria laden, only two or three are taken out with exports. We can do even more. We can do even 12.”

As a result of this the two bodies agreed it would be good if the nation’s export is raised from the present 20 per cent to 80 per cent.

According to the Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, this initiative is part of the zero-oil plan currently being implemented by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in collaboration with the private sector, and is estimated to be worth over US$150bn in annual export value at full capacity. Some of the targeted products include; palm oil, cashew, cocoa, soya beans, rubber, rice, petrochemical, leather, ginger, cotton and Shea butter, tomato, banana and plantain.

To this end, both government agencies are working closely to formulate policies and put in place measures to actualise the goal.

In addition, Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello said the present situation where only 20 per cent containers leaving the country are laden with export goods was not acceptable. He further mentioned that the digitisation of the ports and the provision of multi-modal transportation access to the ports had commenced to further support in the drive to increase exports from Nigeria.

Bello made the call in Lagos yesterday during a meeting with the maritime press in continuation of the Council’s sensitisation of stakeholders in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. He commended efforts so far taken by the CBN to boost the economy but stressed the need for the bank to focus on export.

According to him, there is a great need to provide incentives to exporters. He added that Nigeria’s port terminals were not export friendly as the cost of export is even higher in Nigeria when compared to the cost in other competing nations.

He also said, “For the government, we have to look inward and for the economy, it has to be retrospective. We have not been able to wean ourselves from our dependence on oil but I think this is a harsh lesson for us. We have no other choice than to look at diversification and strengthening our source of revenue, so that we can have a buffer if a thing like this should happen again, we cannot rule it out.”

Bello also commended the leadership of the Apex regulatory Bank for working closely with it to ensure that the volume of export moves up to 80 per cent of all containers being shipped out through the nation’s ports.

The Nigerian Shippers Council boss noted that meetings have been held with CBN and that he is delighted to see that the Apex bank is doing everything possible, especially in terms of policies to actualise the goal.

“Presently, only 20 per cent of all the containers leaving the country are laden. Our aim is to increase that number to 80 and we are working closely with the central bank to achieve this.

“We have to commend the Central Bank for supporting the intervention efforts and we hope they will do the same in the case of this arbitrary charge by the international shipping lines,” he noted.

In a similar note, the LCCI has appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to review its new directive on payments for imports in the interest of the Nigerian economy.

The statement signed by the Director-General of LCCI, Madu Yusuf noted that the appeal became pertinent following the devastating shocks businesses were undergoing, especially with the coronavirus pandemic.

CBN had on August 24, issued a circular on a new directive as part of continued efforts to ensure prudent use of the nation’s forex resources and eliminate incidences of over-invoicing.

In addition, CBN, in the circular, directed authorised dealers to desist from the opening of Form M whose payments are routed through a buying company/agent or any other third parties. Form M is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for the importation of goods into Nigeria.

The CBN requested all authorised dealers to only open Form M for Letters of Credit, bills for collection and other forms of payment in favour of the ultimate supplier of the product or service.

Furthermore, the Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, said his agency had identified 22 export commodities that could help the country reverse the ugly trend of containers going back empty from Nigeria.

According to him the NEPC would key into inland container deports across the country to drive exports starting with the Kaduna Dry Port.

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