NEXIM, NEPC to collaborate in driving trade, economic growth

Both agencies agreed to collaborate to achieve their mandates.

The Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, have resolved to collaborate and establish a synergy in the pursuit of their respective mandates to drive the growth of the nation’s economy.

The Chief Executives of the two agencies, Roberts Orya (NEXIM) and Olusegun Awolowo (NEPC), were exchanging views during a visit to the former by the latter in Abuja on Wednesday.

Mr. Awolowo, who on December 2013 was appointed Executive Director/Chief Executive of the NEPC, said he was in NEXIM to explore areas of collaboration and synergy in order to improve the level of trade flows and improved trade statistics.

The NEPC director said his choice of NEXIM Bank as his first port of call on resumption was to acknowledge his observation of the innovative disposition of the bank to deepen the non-oil sector and its commitment to the President’s Transformation Agenda and Vision 20:2020 objectives.

Restating his high confidence in the country’s ability to meet her development goals, Mr. Awolowo noted NEXIM bank’s initiatives in enhancing the level of formal trade, saying the study conducted by NEPC had revealed that NEXIM’s contributions accounted for the bulk of the $12 billion (N1.9 trillion) annual earnings from informal trade, which is higher than the formal trade valued at $3 billion (N477 billion).

Mr. Awolowo assured NEXIM Bank that the NEPC was already working towards reviewing the Export Expansion Grant, EPG, to cover the qualification criteria and other aspects, with greater emphasis on market development, with Nigerians in diaspora as major targets.He said Trade Commissioners had already been appointed in major countries, including China, Brazil and London, to help in developing markets for Nigerian products, especially for the benefit of millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

He lauded NEXIM Bank’s Corporate Transformation initiative, pointing out that NEPC was also working on human resource realignment to drive export growth, adding that the objective of the new management under his leadership was to increase the level of non-oil exports by at least 30 per cent in the next four years.

“With our common vision, I invite NEXIM Bank to collaborate with us for higher synergies,” the NEPC director told his NEXIM bank counterpart.

Both organisations, he said, have significant roles to play in developing the Nigerian non-oil exports, adding that his leadership would encourage and foster even closer collaboration between the two institutions towards supporting Mr. President’s Transformation Agenda and achieving Vision 20:2020 objectives.

Welcoming Mr. Awolowo to NEXIM Bank, Mr. Orya commended him for taking the initial collaborative step by the visit, noting that NEPC and NEXIM Bank were the principal agencies of government responsible for the promotion of non-oil exports.

Mr. Orya reviewed NEXIM Bank’s mandate, mission and vision, stating that the institution was established by Act 38 of 1991 as an Export Credit Agency to promote the diversification of the Nigerian economy away from oil and deepening the external sector.

Mr. Orya stated that on his resumption in August 2009 as the MD/CEO, the Bank had deviated from its original core mandate into lending to both oil and gas operators, a development that resulted in a dismal credit performance and loss of both its shareholders’ and investors’ confidence.

He said this warranted his seeking the approval of the bank’s shareholders to initiate a Corporate Transformation Project (Project Spring) that led to the re-definition of the Bank’s mission, vision and strategic objectives.

The cardinal intention, he pointed out, was to channel the bank’s resources into the development of four sectors, namely manufacturing, agro-processing, solid minerals, & services, deemed to have high amount of employment and foreign exchange earnings capacities.

He said the outcome of the corporate transformation was the creation of new strategic objectives to enable the bank have a clear market focus, to become a major contributor to non-oil exports.

This, he noted, was in addition to turning it into a world class institution that imbibed best-in-class corporate governance and risk management practices towards becoming a relevant player in the export market with the capacity to significantly influence government trade policies.

Mr. Orya informed Mr. Awolowo that the bank was developing the ECOWAS and other Africa regional markets as the traditional market for Nigerian exporters.

He said the idea was to provide a strong platform for Nigerian exporters to venture into the more complex markets of Asia and other developed economies in line with the strategy in other jurisdictions where the NEXIM Bank first developed their regional market.

Towards developing the ECOWAS market, he said NEXIM Bank had earlier launched the ECOWAS Trade Support Facility, ETSF, to reduce the level of informal trade and encourage the small scale exporters to use the banking system to leverage their operations.

Mr. Orya informed his counterpart that NEXIM Bank was facilitating the Sealink Project, which would culminate in the establishment of a shipping company to own and operate ocean-going vessels to boost trade within the West and Central Africa.

Accordingly, he invited the NEPC to cooperate with NEXIM Bank in making this project a success hinting that an Investment Memorandum to raise the take-off grant of $60 million (N9.5 billion) had been prepared in English and French languages and the private placement was expected to open before the end of January.

“NEXIM Bank’s transformation initiative may not have achieved every item of the targets we set in our five-year strategy plan, but we have completely strengthened our operational processes, instituted the strong pillars of corporate governance, risk management, turned NEXIM Bank from an obscure, loss-making institution to a highly visible and profit-making institution with a robust balance sheet size,” Mr Orya said.

The NEXIM MD advised NEPC to review the current provisions regarding the Export Expansion Grant to make it more effective, adding that both NEXIM and NEPC need to work in close collaboration to boost the current level of non-oil exports which had remained below four per cent over the past five years.

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