The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo on Thursday inauguarated the reconstituted Enlarged National Focal Point (ENPF) with the mandate to serve as a forum for systematic consultation, and collaboration among relevant Government Ministries, Agencies and the Private Sector, for effective management of trade matters.
Performing the inauguration of the ENPF chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Evelyn Ngige, he explained that raison d’être of establishing the ENFP is for it to serve as the platform to promote Nigeria’s interests in all trade negotiations through the proper articulation and harmonisation of the country’s negotiation positions.
According to him, “The increase in the number and complexity of trade and trade-related issues in the 21st Century, including the associated sectoral interlinkages, has challenged the ability of both developed and developing countries to manage, negotiate, and implement trade agreements.
“Indeed, trade policy in today’s world goes well beyond the traditional focus on border measures such as tariffs, trade taxes and charges, export subsidies, customs and transit regimes, quantitative restrictions, and quotas.
“While the search for new disciplines and commitments is ongoing in many different areas, rules on trade in agriculture, services, investment, intellectual property and product standards have all led to various systemic changes and challenges, since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995.”
He said the ENPF which drew its members from ministries and agencies of government, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, labour unions, Nigerian Economic Summit Group amongst others, was necessitated by the enlarged scope of national trade policy agenda.
He said: “Constructive dialogue on trade policy, including trade negotiations between government agencies and with the private sector and civil society, is critical to determining how Nigeria effectively responds to the risks and opportunities arising from the growing integration of the national economy into the international trading system.
“I am, therefore, convinced that the ENFP provides Nigeria with a very useful platform to make this happen, more so as it is very obvious that a fragmented approach to policy development and negotiations, in today’s world, is no longer sustainable.
“The ENFP, therefore, should not only strengthen the country’s participation in trade negotiations, but also crucially bring about coherence and complementarity to the national trade policy-making process.”
The minister called on all members of the ENFP to work together, with a view to ensuring that trade, investment and technology policies serve as the core enablers of growth and the sustainable development of the Nigerian economy.