Protocols and Pleasantries—
The Honourable Minister, Finance, Budget and National Planning,
The Honourable Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment,
Your Excellency, The Executive Governor of Lagos State,
Deputy Governors, Directors, and my Colleagues at the CBN,
Managing Directors of Various Banks, and their Staff,
Captains of Industries Present
Gentlemen and women of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning to you all. I am very delighted to be here with you all today, and to give you a steer of what we will try to accomplish during this one-day summit.
- You will recall that after the Bankers’ Committee meeting of 10 February 2022, I personally unveiled the RT200 FX Program, which is an initiative of the Bankers’ Committee aimed at raising US$200 billion in non-oil export earnings over the next 3-5 years. I specifically stated that the program will be anchored on five pillars, namely:
- Value-Adding Exports Facility
- Non-Oil Commodities Expansion Facility
- Non-Oil FX Rebate Scheme
- Dedicated Non-Oil Export Terminal
- Biannual Non-Oil Export Summit
- This programme was borne out of the realization that most of our current sources of foreign exchange inflows were unreliable, and perennially prone to exogenous vicissitudes of global economic developments. For example, we have all been witnesses to the ever-changing fortunes of oil-exporting countries. Even those that have been reputed to manage their oil proceeds well also suffer from major shocks once oil prices plummet.
- In order to avoid these sudden adjustments to our economic life, we needed to focus on strategies that can help us earn more stable and sustainable inflows of foreign exchange. We would need to follow the best practices of other countries and ensure that we protect ourselves a little bit from factors that are beyond our immediate control.
- Soon afterward the February 2022 unveiling of the programme, we issued the guidelines to give effect to one of the five aforementioned pillars, namely the Non-Oil FX Rebate Scheme. As you can guess, this scheme was designed to incentivize exporters in the non-oil export sector to repatriate and sell their export proceeds in the local foreign exchange market and earn a rebate. I am happy to inform you that after the first quarter of implementing the scheme, we have recorded a significant increase in non-oil export repatriation, and have paid eligible exporters over N3.5 billion in rebates.
- In continuation of the implementation of the Programme, we are gathered here today for the maiden edition of the biannual Non-oil Export Summit to harness ideas on how we can increase the value and volume of export in the country, and improve the availability of foreign exchange therefrom. As things now stand, we really have very little choice left but to look inwards and find innovative solutions to our problems.
- Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, as you all know, the Nigerian economy has been challenged in many fronts in recent years due to a combination of local and global factors. Disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delays in global logistic value chains and local security challenges have exerted undue pressure on our economy, making macroeconomic management very difficult. These factors impacted oil production and prices, disrupted trade and exports, reduced capital inflows and impacted food production. They also exposed the fragility of the Nigerian economy and the need for a more diversified economy.
- Yet, in the face of these challenges, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been confronted with rising demand for foreign exchange for both goods, services, and other needs. With this unabating demand, the Bank has been working to manage both the demand and supply side to meet foreign exchange obligations.
- However, Monetary Policy alone cannot bear all the burden of the expected adjustments needed to manage these difficulties. These problems call for urgent design and steadfast implementation of other supportive, structural, and complementary policies that are broad based, coordinated and focused on complementing the work of the monetary authority.
- Just as the situation I have outlined aboveforced the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee to search for more innovative programmes and policies, geared towards sustainable solutions, it is my earnest hope that at the end of the summit today, presenters, panelists and participants will put on their thinking caps and come up with even more innovative solutions to the problems of non-oil exports in Nigeria.
- I am delighted to see that many of the agencies, businesspeople, financiers, and practitioners in the non-oil export space in Nigeria are present here. While I warmly welcome you all to this event, my hope is that this would be a problem-solving gathering. A summit that will guarantee that for every complain, problem, issue, challenge or difficulty that is presented or identified, there will be one or several agencies or practitioners that can articulate options for solving that problem. I strongly believe that the ideas harnessed from this maiden summit would be invaluable in helping us reach our ultimate goal of US$200 billion in non-oil exports over the medium term.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I am mindful that this goal itself may appear unattainable to some. But I am resolute and determined that we can achieve it. Many countries that are much less endowed than Nigeria are doing it. Consider for example that agriculture exports alone from the Netherlands was about US$120 billion last year. Yet, Netherlands has a land mass of about 42,000 square kilometers, which is much smaller that the land mass of Niger State alone, which sits on over 76,000 square kilometers.
- Therefore, I call on this gathering to candidly interact and make constructive and innovative suggestions towards exploring the non-oil export sector as a more sustainable means of increasing foreign exchange inflows into the economy and generating employment to spur growth.
- Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to remember no country is promised greatness by anyone. Instead, citizens have to roll up their sleeves and work to achieve greatness. As renowned Canadian Economist Peter Howitt once said, economies that fail to transform themselves with the passage of time will fall off the growth path sooner rather than later. Therefore, this is the time for all of us to work together to reposition Nigeria on a growth trajectory by taking diversification of the economy serious business. This is the time to start working in synergy for the good of our nation. This is the time for us as a Banking Community to do more and support exporters who have been flying the flag of Nigeria in the international market space. There is indeed no better time than now!
- I thank you for listening
Godwin I. Emefiele, CON
Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria 16 June 2022