Aganga said this when he visited the Executive Director of Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, and members of the management team in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the petroleum products which prices had continued to tumble on the international markets, threatening the stability of the Nigerian economy.
“This is part of the spirited moves by the government towards reviving the dwindling national economy with emphasis on rapid growth of the non-oil sector for exports,’’ he said.
According to him, the Federal Government has listed the export products in three categories.
They include “agro-industrial-palm oil, cocoa, cashew, sugar and rice; mining related – cement, iron ore/metals, auto parts/cars, aluminum and oil and gas industrial products – petroleum products, fertilizer/urea, petrochemical and methanol,’’ he said.
He noted that originally 12 products were identified, but that the number got increased because the Executive Director of NEPC made a very strong case for the inclusion of cashew in the list.
Aganga, however, charged NEPC to deploy its capacity for kick-starting the diversification of the country’s economy in line with the government’s agenda.
He said the visit to NEPC and SMEDAN was because of their potential and strategic importance for diversification of the economy, job creation, poverty alleviation and inclusive growth.
“The strategy to be deployed in that regard requires that NEPC identifies products that are being imported by countries from other exporting nations and to develop the products with sound logistics built around them,” he said.
The essence, the Minister stressed, was to deliver them cheaper to the neighboring countries, being an export oriented investment strategy.
“In doing this, we must recognise our neighbors’ developmental needs, support them and collaborate with them in areas of their comparative advantage.
For you to have sustainable relationship there must be symbiotic in relationship.
The new strategic focus is not just agriculture but rather commodities based industrialization. This will help our economy to diversify quickly and sustainably.
Such strategy will help build industrial sector that can diversify our economy in just few years,’’ he added.
Aganga urged Awolowo on the need for NEPC to work towards earning big income for Nigeria by focusing on products and services that would yield quick results in few years with a view to assisting Nigeria earn foreign exchange.
Responding, Awolowo thanked the Minister for the visit and in particular, for his supports to the council’s activities and projects.
He noted that NEPC, under his leadership, had long recognised the need to develop the non-oil export sub-sector.
He said the council had, in the process, held series of strategic meetings with stakeholders for the development of ideas aimed at improving the foreign exchange earnings by Nigeria through different avenues.
These, he said, include the development of a four-year Strategic Plan, One-State-One-Product (OSOP), Nigerian Diaspora Export Programme (NDEX) and the development of new markets for new products.
Others include special initiatives on the sub regional (ECOWAS) markets, multi-stakeholders’ engagement of the export community, especially deepening of relationship with key stakeholders.
The stakeholders include MAN, NACCIMA, chambers of commerce, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) and USAID,
Awolowo assured the minister that he would do his best in collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure an increase in the foreign exchange earnings by Nigeria, to reduce the effects of the current fall in oil prices at the international markets.
This, according to him, requires support, funding and strategic actions.
He, however, appealed to the minister to continue to support the council’s quest to attract the statutory fund held by NIMASA and the final resolution of the problem associated with the utilisation of NDDCs by exporters.
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