Forum Begs FG To Reduce Export Cost    

 The Airfreight Stakeholders Forum (ASF) has appealed to the Federal Government to reduce the cost of doing businesses in Nigeria to encourage local exporters.

Mr Sunday Akintunde, The Chairman of the Forum made the call in an interview in Abuja.

Akintunde said it was regrettable that the cost of exporting products to other countries from Nigeria was high.

“This has discouraged many local exporters in the country and put them out of business.

“Some Nigerians go as far as Accra in Ghana to export Nigerian Yams to other countries of the world because the cost of export is cheap there compared to Nigeria.

“To export a kilo of products in Ghana is two dollars while in Nigeria it’s about seven dollars; that is why Nigerians are rushing there to export Nigerian products.

“This is indirectly increasing the GDP of Ghana at the detriment of Nigeria’s GDP.

“The government is talking about diversification of the economy from oil but with high cost of export, we cannot achieve diversification.

“If there is no enabling environment for Nigerian exporters to flourish, then achieving diversification will be a difficult task,’’ he said.

Akintunde said bureaucracy was another challenge for exporters, adding that Nigeria deserved a one stop shop to take care of export processes.

The ASF Chairman said that there was need for government to review policies in line with present day realities in the sector.

He said there was also need for enlightenment of farmers to realise that their products were needed in other countries.

“This is where Export Promotion Council should come in to ensure that local farmers with export potentials are sensitised on the rudiments of exportation; bringing together buyers and sellers.

“ASF with other relevant stakeholders will inaugurate a committee to be headed by the Nigeria Customs to identify challenges, make recommendations to government and transform it into policy that will address the challenges.

“For instance getting the Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI) form to export through Cobalt Services which is a pre-shipment inspection agent for the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme is difficult.

“In Abuja Airport, we don’t have Cobalt that will look at products to be exported, do the analysis, x-ray and certify.

“Therefore products for export from Abuja will have to be sent to Lagos for Cobalt inspection and analysis before bringing them back to Abuja; this is not proper,’’ he said.

Akintunde said there was need for the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to come to the aid of ASF and encourage private sector.

According to him, such will help boost the economy and discourage Nigerians from exporting farm produce through other countries.

However, the ASF Chairman said that the influx of contraband goods into the country had drastically reduced.

“The reduction is as a result of the good work by government agencies at the airport that carry out 100 per cent examination; so that has discouraged people that bring in contraband goods.

“The Custom Area Commander for the FCT, Mrs Umar has been doing a wonderful work on trade facilitation and bringing all stakeholders together.

“But this issue of high cost of export and bureaucracy has been a major challenge.

“There is need for NEPC to collaborate with Shippers Council and Cobalt to make sure people get the certificate they need to make it easy for them,’’ he said.

He explained that commercial banks had a role to play in the export sector, because the CCI form is obtained  through the bank.

He stressed that the NEPC should sensitise exporters on the kind of soft loan that they could assess.

“Just like the government is doing with the Federal Mortgage Bank for housing, Bank of Agriculture for farmers; they can do that for exporters too.

“We can grow our economy and generate employment for export; we have a lot of opportunities in the export industry,’’ Akintunde said.