Federal Government to invest N20 billion in trade and commerce

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The Federal Government is planning to invest N20.1 billion on commerce and industry over the next three years.

This is contained in the government’s new investment blueprint for the development of trade and commerce in Nigeria.

A breakdown of the investment plan shows that the money would be invested in nine thematic areas between 2011 and 2013.

Specifically, N1.11billion would be spent on the procurement of scanners to enhance the Automated Systems for Customs Data; N372million is being slated for value addition to the country’s export commodities, while another N372million will be spent on the establishment of the Export House and Market Intelligence.

Similarly, N744.4million would be spent on the implementation of the Commerce 44 Initiative, while N930.5million is for the promotion of border markets, N372.2 milliom is being devoted for on processing agricultural produce, N186 million on the other hand is for the development of the World Trade Organisation’s compatible trade regime, N14 billion is going for various trade and commerce programmes and projects, while N1.3 billion would be spent on non-priority projects.

The blueprint noted: “Trade and commerce is strategic to the economic development of the country. The estimated total investment for the trade and commerce sector between 2011 and 2013 amounts to N20.112b.

“The policy thrust of the sector within the plan period will be to implement projects and programmes that will boost the production of export products as well as create the necessary environment for the emergence of the country as a hub for trans-American, trans-European and trans-Asian trade.

When compared to other African countries, the share of manufactured exports in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)of the country is very small.”

The Federal Government has initiated several policies to revamp the sector and increase its contribution to the GDP.

These include tariff reforms, harmonisation of waivers, concession and incentives as well as port reforms, among others.

In spite of these policies, trade and commerce has been stymied by the absence of reliable and timely trade data, lack of commitment to policies aimed at boosting exports, poor infrastructure and regulatory environment, uncoordinated informal trade and high cost of doing business, among others.

However, the government, through the new investment plan, intends to promote increased value addition to the country’s potential in agriculture, solid minerals, and oil and gas for sustainable economic growth, wealth creation and employment generation.

The government also intends to sustain its tariff reforms, which are aimed at reducing the unpredictability, uncertainty and lack of transparency in Nigeria’s tariff regime.

According to the document, the government plans to deepen Nigeria’s integration into global markets by doubling the country’s openness index by 2013.

The document added: “Various strategies and initiatives will be used to support the growth of non-oil exports, increase utilisation of preferential trade arrangements and strengthen Nigeria’s participation in international trade negotiations.

“Improving the uptake of preferences would require addressing various bottlenecks such as transactions and transformation costs of doing business.

Nigeria’s increased participation in international trade will ensure that the country’s interests are secured in future trade agreements.”

In a related event, the Federal Government has set aside $500million in bonds to assist the growth of small-scale businesses.

President Goodluck Jonathan said this in Abuja while addressing workers to mark the 2011 May Day celebration.

Jonathan said the Africa Development Bank was also offering $500million to further encourage small-scale enterprises.

He said to further boost the economy, the government was on the verge of reducing the interest rate to single digit to facilitate borrowing.

“All these are aimed at boosting the economy and creating more jobs,’’ Jonathan said.

The president also said 10 power plants were being constructed to boost electricity supply.

He added: “We are also building hydro-power plants in Mambilla and Zungeru as well as various other sub-stations across the country.

By: Toba Agboola

In : Business

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