EU Ban On Non-Export Worries FG

The Federal Government has expressed dissatisfaction over the ban of some agricultural food exports from Nigeria by the European Union.

Food items such as beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish, meat, peanut chips and Palm oil produced in the country were recently banned from entering Europe as a result of non-compliance with set standards.

The development has spurred the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), which is the government parastatal responsible for export regulations, to constitute an inter agency committee.

At the inauguration of the committe on Tuesday in Abuja, Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, noted that recent economic and political developments the world over underscored the imperatives of the development of non-oil produce.

The Committee’s mandate is to chart a new course for the nation’s non-oil exports with a view to ensuring a zero rejection of Nigeria’s export commodities.

The inter agency technical committee has sub division such as: Trade Information, Export Procedures and Documentation, and Capacity Building, Quality Standards and Compliance.

Awolowo, who noted that Nigeria witnessed a steady growth in non-oil exports in 2013 by contributing $2.97billion to the economy, representing 15.9 percent increase over $2.561billion in 2013, however, noted that these gains could be marred by the wave of rejection of Nigeria’s exportable products.

According to him: “Nigeria is on the EU restricted list for some products, which stipulates that there should be 50 percent physical inspection for specified  imported  food items thereby creating a barrier to food export trade.”

The NEPC boss listed some of the reasons for the rejection to include, non compliance to administrative procedures like documentation import/export requirements, incorrect filling of information for entry, inadequate information and know-how on entry/requirement for food imports to EU.

Others, according to him, include non adherence to food safety measures, presence of high level of pesticide residue, technical barter issues such as poor packaging, labeling, and insufficient information on the nutritional content.

Buttressing the negative effects of this development on the economy, Awolowo added: “The possible effects of this action on our economy especially as it relates to non oil exports include reduction in the number of agricultural food exports from Nigeria thereby shrinking export portfolio; trade imbalance, high cost to the exporters who have to bear the cost of shipping the rejected products back to Nigeria or the cost of destroyed shipment, and attraction of wide international media attention and unfavourable image.”

He disclosed that the committee was carefully selected to ensure that Nigerian agricultural and food items listed for exports conform to stipulated food safety measures and documentation requirements.

Members of the inter agency committee on non-oil exports are drawn from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council; Federal Ministry of Industry,  Trade and Investment, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria- Export Group, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria.

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