Non-Oil Export Rejection By EU To Stop Soon – SON
THE Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, has said it foresees a significant drop in the rejection of the country’s non oil exports to the European Union any moment from now.
The EU is the main destination for agricultural goods from Nigeria but most of these commodities are rejected because of non-conformity to EU standards.This optimism is hinged on the ongoing training of 70 staff of the agency over the next eight months by the EU, on requirements for exporting of local honey, cocoa, millet, rice, sorghum and gum arabic to the EU markets.
Speaking during a meeting to herald the commencement of the training, SON Director General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, disclosed that the project is being facilitated by lead experts, Dr. Geoffrey Visser from South Africa, and a Nigerian Dr. Yinka Jayeola, adding that “60-70 staff of the agency have been selected to undergo the training and in turn, they would train exporters in the key sectors.”
Dr. Odumodu commended the EU for playing a major role in ensuring that the quality infrastructure Nigeria needs to access international market is in place.
He noted, “Today, we are the next buyer within the international community, buying 80 percent of what we are consuming and we sell less than 20 percent of what we have the capacity. And most of what we sell, we didn’t add value to them. That is why it is gratifying to see that Federal Government’s budget from 2016 is looking at diversifying our economy.
“One thing I would like to say is that if we want to drive our economy, then we must have created the right quality infrastructure to support exporting our products to international market. That is why the SON has been in the forefront of leading the campaign for a robust quality infrastructure in Nigeria.
Robust quality infrastructure
“It is a thing of joy that the EU Technical Barriers to Trade, TBT, programme for Africa and other parts of the world has come to Nigeria and I am excited about this because, sometimes, when you talk about standardizations there is always something to add to what you know. At SON, we focus on market driven standards in the areas of energy, power, and agricultural produce because these are the areas the Federal Government is focusing on in the future. Nigeria has the potential, and all we need to do is to harness the potential and we will get there.”
Regarding SON’s position on the links between the capacity building and the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA, between the EU and the ACP countries, Odumodu said: “Nigeria is not at the point where we can sign the agreement. It makes sense. What we are doing today is to build us to a level where we can be in a position we can consider the agreement but as it is today, it is not feasible. You don’t put people in different levels and expect them to sign agreements to open up borders because it will not be a level-playing field and competition will be one sided.”
Mr. Bayo Komolafe, Director, Standards Development, SON, stated: “We requested for the training from EU in 2013, and after series of meetings it has come to reality today. The training is intended to help African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to conform to the requirements for their goods to be accepted by the EU countries. What we are witnessing today is the technical assistance, through the training of SON’s staff. SON is constantly seeking ways to develop its workforce in line with global best practices.”
Lead Expert, Dr. Geoffrey Visser, said “ It is a very ambitious project, considering what Nigeria has to gain in the long run, in terms of more markets, more sales, better infrastructure to increase and improve productive capacity, training opportunities and knowledge transfer.
It is a kind of training the trainer so that they can transfer the knowledge to others.”