By Franca Ofili
Abuja – The Federal Government says it will resume the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme in 2017, to expand the volume and value of exports, diversify export products and improve global competitiveness of exporters.
Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said this in Abuja on Thursday during at a news conference.
Enelamah said the scheme would be included in the budget, to manage the impact on government revenue and promote transparency.
He said that approved liability on the scheme for unused certificates would be settled after the conduct of an audit to verify the actual amount due.
Enelamah saidan inter-ministerial committee was set up, following the EEG suspension, to access the scheme holistically and make recommendations on framework for its continued operation.
“The committee came up with recommendations and also made a presentation at the Economic Management Team (EMT) meeting of Oct. 17, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo, in which its recommendations were approved,’’ he said.
Enelamah said there was ongoing negotiation of 21st century Nigerian free trade agreements to expand market opportunities for companies as well as look into the ECOWAS Common External Tariff that had been controversial.
He said the ministry was running a feasibility study for the development of six Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) and securing funding in the budget for the first development phase to be launched in 2017.
“On the SEZs, the ministry is facilitating the setup of special economic zones throughout Nigeria.
“The specific goals include to help overcome the infrastructure disadvantages faced by local manufacturers and promote the cluster effects gained by locating similar manufacturing businesses together,’’ Enelamah said.
He said the ministry was also updating the Nigeria’s trade policy priorities in to correct the imbalances in the country’s trade relationships and reversing negotiating failures.
According to him, one of the items being examined at the moment is the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) CET.
“CET is a regional tariff structure for West Africa on the basis of which products are imported within the region.
“It came into effect in 2015 with a transitional period of implementation to 2020.
“The challenge for the economy is that manufacturers and industrialists said that the negotiation that resulted in the CET did not take into account the sensitivities of industrial and manufacturing sectors,’’ Enelamah said.
The minister said that the pre-existing sensitivities had been compounded with the onset of the recession and other vulnerabilities.
He said that stakeholders believed the economy would be damaged if the CET was implemented in 2020 and that the situation would be compounded if Nigeria signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
“As a consequence, producers, manufacturers, industrialists and others have requested for the postponement and negotiation of the CET and for the EPA not to be signed.
“ The government is thus, seriously working on these concerns.’’