Nigeria Losing The Export Market

By Stephen Ubanna

Nigeria appears to have lost  the export trade market  in the West African sub-region to Ghana and Coted’Ivoire. President Muhammadu Buhari  had put in place some incentives to encourage Nigeria farmers to produce for export.

A s a prelude to ensure that Nigeria farmers export quality agricultural products, the Federal Inspection Services, FIS, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture , National Agency for Food and Drug AAdministration, NAFDAC, an agency of ministry of Health  and Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, were forced to go back to the drawing board to prepare a soft landing for the Nigeria  agricultural  products exporters.

Given Buhari’s effort to diversify the country’s economy and take over the export trade in the West African sub-region,  NAFDAC became more strict in issuing  export Certificates based on the quality of the product.   I t was learnt that  over 60 warehouses  were registered to warehouse approved agricultural products for export.

Kemi Adeosun: Minister of Finance
Kemi Adeosun: Minister of Finance

Moreso, the President was said to have approved the cancellation of duty on agricultural products for export and reduced to zero  , duty on imported agricultural machineries  as part of efforts to ensure that Nigerians control the West African sub-region export trade.

Some of the items on the export list were groundnut,palm oil, Seseme seed, melon seed, beans , Cocoa, Coal, Palm  kernel, yam , palm kernel cake, dried fish among others.  An  Audu Ogbe, the minister of Agriculture  overseeing  the export of the Agricultural products had one thing in mind that ”export trade especially Commodities , are operated  at an international level” and there Nigerians must excel. But the fear in both official and unofficial circles was that  Nigeria exporters  of Commodities  such as  Cocoa and palm kernel could be uncompetitive and priced out of the market  because of poor logistics compared with other exporters in the region.

The Port Terminal Operators, PTOL who ought to be smiling to bank with the supposed boom in the export trade are no longer finding it funny.  They lamented that Nigeria  had lost  the export business  to the ports of Teme, Ghana and Abidjan, Coted’Ivoire in the last two years which was blamed on logistic discharge., warehousing and loading of the Commodity. They maintained that  Nigeria exporter could not compete in the international market  because of the high cost of handling  the Commodity  in Nigeria ports  and lack of warehousing  and automated  method of loading.

A senior Customs official disclosed that in Ghan and Cotd’Ivoire,  the cost of handling a palm kernel cake  vessel of Gross Registered Tonnage, GRT,  of 2,861, Length Over All (LOA) of 97, Cargoes:2727.5m/t is $23.64 pertonne covering  stevedoring, trimming, haulage, warehousing and shifting  from the warehouse to the shipside.

The officer disclosed that  in Nigeria, exporters pay as much  $30-$35 per tonne for the same services. It was learnt that in Ghana , it takes three days  with two hooks to load 2,277m/t  of palm kernel cake  while in Nigeria, it takes seven to 10 days excluding  waiting time for the ship to berth.

The PTOL, had , therefore suggested that the systems  and logistics  of doing business in Nigeria ports  should be critically reviews for improvement to reduce cost of shipment and make the country’s exporters of agricultural products competitive.. The feared that  the ”high costs coupled with other factors  could make Nigeria exporters of palm kernel cake  and other commodities to lose the market  permanently to Ghana and other  countries in the West African sub-region.

EThe Association is worried at what is happening at the Nigeria export market.  It cautioned against the craze by Nigerians to rush into the import business.   PTOLwarned that a country that a country  that does not export but imports because of revenue earnings is doomed  to suffer economically and not make progress.

indeed, for Nigeria to fully enter into the export trade, Kemi Adeosun, minister of Finance , must do everything within her powers to ensure that the government de-empasise on  imports. Admitted that the government is making good money  from duties on imports but it is at the detriment of the country’s econmic growth, Eugene Nweke, a Lagos based clearing agent and former President of National Associationof Government Approved Freight Forwarders had said.

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