The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday charged the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) to improve exporters’ access to funds as a logical step towards fast-tracking Federal Government’s ongoing economic recovery drive.
The President of the organized private sector group, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, gave the charged at a webinar on funding opportunities for exporters.
Mabogunje, who was represented at the forum by the chamber’s Honourary Treasurer, Mr Abimbola Olashore, explained that accessible funding would also engender value addition to primary raw materials and improve foreign exchange inflows required to diversify the nation’s economic base.
According to her, sustained efforts to boost manufacturing exports and reduce the government’s over-dependence on crude oil as the primary forex source for the country over the years have not acheived the desired outcomes, as over 85 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings derives from crude oil exports.
The industrialist pointed out that the non-oil export sector held huge potential to boost Nigeria’s forex earnings for the economy and support the efforts of the monetary authorities on Naira exchange rate stability.
Mabogunje hinged her position on fact that Nigeria is blessed with vast manufacturing raw materials in which can be explored to increase exports and reverse Nigeria’s trade imbalances with most of the merchandize trade countries.
The industrialist said: “Nigeria’s non-oil export sector is dominated by raw material and primary product exports over the years. We could have generated much more in foreign exchange earnings if those raw materials were processed into value-added commodities before exportation.
“However, many manufacturers are not adequately abreast with the intricacies and availability of funding opportunities, particularly, by the NEXIM bank. Without addressing these major challenges, it will be increasingly difficult for the economy to leverage the recent exchange rate depreciation of the Naira to enhance global competitiveness and correct our external imbalance”, Mabogunje added.
The LCCI president maintained that exports of primary produce without value addition in form of processing would not generate the desired level of foreign exchange needed to achieve economic diversification and accelerate economic growth.
She, therefore, urged the fiscal and monetary authorities to take critical steps towards improving the operating environment for manufacturing and other non-oil sector entities in the country for sustainable growth of the economy.
The industrialist expatiated: “Therefore, we implore policymakers as a matter of urgency to create the enabling environment that would enable non-oil exporters add value to primary products before exportation. While some steps taken recently by the government on improving the fortunes of non-oil export are commendable, however, we need to do more.
“Today, we are focusing on funding opportunities for exporters by NEXIM Bank and are pleased to have them give us insights into these opportunities,” she added
In her remarks, Chairperson, LCCI Export Group, Mrs. Bosun Solarin, urged NEXIM Bank management to consider new credit access criteria for exporters, such as the collaterals requirement, to stimulate Nigeria’s manufacturing competitiveness in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In addition, she also canvassed an increase in turnaround time for fund disbursement, and greater support for women – owned businesses to push Nigeria’s export diversification agenda to an enviable point.
Solarin said: “We want the bank to embrace the new set of exporters and reduce their requirements which may be difficult for new exporters to meet.
“Requirements such as adequate collateral of not less than 150 per cent of loan value needs to be addressed and women owned businesses given preference to compete well in AfFTA”, the export trade expert added
In his remarks, Head, Lagos Regional Office of the bank, Mr Ugenyi Kalu, restated the bank’s commitment to supporting exporters in target sectors, particularly manufacturing, agriculture, solid minerals, transport, tourism and entertainment, by providing financial services, risk bearing services, funds management, and advisory services amongst others.
He assured: “NEXIM is particularly interested in supporting and working with Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to position Nigerian entrepreneurs to benefit from intra-African and global trade.
“There are several export development opportunities for SMEs through collaborations and strategic partnerships with NEXIM bank.
“We have the Small and Medium Enterprises Export Facility aimed at increasing deliberate funding to SME towards broadening Nigeria’s export basket, facilitate industrialization for value added exports.
“Our recently launched Women and Youth in Export Facility (WAYEF) is also aimed at up-scaling women and youth in the non export value chain to enable them take advantage of the numerous potentials in international trade”, Kalu stressed.