Almost a year after reports came out on foreign airlines departing Nigerian runways empty, the situation has changed, but not for the better. Today, more airlines are departing without exportable goods, much to the pain of stakeholders and the loss of foreign exchange earnings worth billions of dollars yearly.
It seems that Nigeria slumped in the export of agricultural produce following high rate of rejections and prohibitions overseas over poor packaging, documentation and alleged noncompliance with set standards. Compared to the import-to-export ratio that was given as 66:34 in 2017, last year’s ratio stood at 87:13, though movement of goods through the airports had increased by 56 per cent compared to 2020.
While regulators blame exporters for failure of due diligence, operators push back on regulatory bottlenecks, one-too-many local agencies and conflicting guidelines, high cost of freight, multiple charges and extortions even on goods that are not prohibited.
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) earlier this month, led an inter-agency team to the United Kingdom on a fact-finding mission as part of efforts to address issues that inhibit the growth of Nigeria’s non-oil export sector and curb incidences of export rejects. Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak, who led the team, lamented that the cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.
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