South East Set For Roundtable On Improving Market Access & Competitiveness Of Businesses Through Digital Trade

South-East chambers of commerce and manufacturers of non-oil export products will converge on the 29th October, 2020 to discuss issues bordering on global competitiveness of businesses in the region through digital trade. In view of on-going discussions on diversification of the Nigerian economy, the south east region has the potential to drive this ambition of the Federal Government

The event scheduled to hold on Thursday, October 29, 2020 will have participants from all over the globe, especially key stakeholders in the Nigerian export market including the Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria (NPNEN), Trade Associations in the South East region, South East Governors’ Association, Private sector ICT and Fintech companies as well as Regulatory agencies and export facilitating agencies, development partners and other key stakeholders.

According to Dr Titilola Akindeinde, PDF Bridge Programme Manager, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the international trade landscape and has continued to challenge the way and manner in which trade across borders is conducted Consequently, digital trade and e-commerce are inevitable if Nigeria is to grow its non-oil export and diversify away from oil. In addition to the support being provided to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the PDF Bridge programme has been working in the regions to strengthen local exporter groups by making their voices count in national policy discourse.

“Various forms of support have been provided to the South East region aimed at improving the competitiveness and exportability of products from South East Industrial Clusters. We are therefore excited to be hosting this roundtable themed “Improving Market Access through Digital Trade” to further our support to the region. We look forward to having robust discussions”. She added.

Industrial city and hubs in the South East Nigeria constitute ready structures to achieve economic diversification ambition of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) as highlighted in the ERGP. This Roundtable is a follow up on various technical supports provided to the FGN by the FCDO funded Policy Development Facility (PDF) in that direction overtime.

According to Engr. Henry Nduka Awuregu, the Director General of South East Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, “The South-East region has the potential to create millions of jobs and transform Nigeria into the likes of China, Japan, Malaysia and other Asian tigers of this world. “This dialogue is in line with SECCIMA mandate to integrate all regional voices into national discourse as well as advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and grow our economy”.”

This roundtable is expected to empower export oriented MSMEs in Aba Induatial Clusters and other South East businesses to leverage technology to gain entry into global markets, this increases their visibility, deepens their market penetration and by implication their global market share.

According to Dr Alaba, PDF-Bridge Trade Policy Expert “This is a new era, a time in which the new reality has challenged our ways of life and the traditional ways of doing business. Re-engineering of trade processes is now inevitable if we must survive this new normal. Digital trade and e-commerce have emerged strongly to help mitigate the disruption and misery inflicted on us and our business processes. We must embrace the opportunities offered by these tools in our own interest. I look forward to the proceedings, he added.

According to Titilope Ojo, Lead Exporter Voices, “The Policy Development Facility through its Trade Policy workstream will continue to galvanise exporter voices to effectively participate in trade policies agencies thereby creating an enabling environment for the underrepresented exporter voices to be heard”.

The objectives of the roundtable are to:
1. Equip MSME exporters with the knowledge and skills needed to participate in digital trade effectively thereby enhancing their competitiveness in international markets.
2. Discuss what the public and private sector should do to maximize the market access benefits of the AfCFTA leveraging on digital infrastructure.
3. Discuss the approach to deploying digital systems for market access in the South- East Post COVID-19

Findings from the engagements will be fed back to the relevant government agencies for use in reviewing and redesigning their processes and procedures and to EBES as input into the Trading Across Borders (TAB) reform efforts. It is expected that the outputs from this event would feed into and raise the quality of further interventions of the Trade Work Stream around market access, export competitiveness, and Nigeria’s trade policy.

The PDF Bridge Programme is a 14-month programme that provides direct technical support to the Federal Government of Nigeria, its agencies and independent regulators in key economic sectors. It enhances technical expertise within the public sector, contributing to inclusive growth and poverty reduction. The programme identifies and works with champions of change, and supports them to conceptualise, design and drive important policy and regulatory reforms that strengthen public planning, budgeting and policies for the improved delivery of public goods and services to citizens. The PDF Bridge Programme is part of the wider DFID-funded ‘Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL)’ programme, a five-year public sector accountability programme which is due to end on April 30, 2021.

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