The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, has said that made-in-Nigeria products are no longer rejected in the international market compared to how they were badly received in past years.
The Minister said this on Monday while speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria.
SON was set up with roles ranging from Standards Development, Testing, Measurement and Calibration, Training and Certification to Product Registration.
The Minister said the body has achieved a milestone in becoming the highest standard body over time.
About 76 per cent of Nigeria’s exported agricultural commodities are rejected by the European Union for not meeting required standards, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
Early this year, the Shippers Association of Lagos lamented that 82 per cent of Nigeria’s exported agro-allied products were either seized or rejected in Europe.
But the Minister in her remarks said SON intervention has given made-in-Nigeria products a positive image.
Katagum said, “Given my role at the forefront of the promotion of the government’s policies on the Ease of Doing Business and the promotion of the growth of MSMEs, I am in a position to vouch for the positive role of SON in the growth of this sector.
“Its activities, especially through the MANCAP scheme, have contributed immensely to the increased acceptability of Nigerian-made products in the international market, which is one of the achievements of this Administration.
“One of the goals of this Administration is that the country’s economy, especially the manufacturing sector, benefits fully from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“The role of SON in achieving this is obvious as the assurance of adherence to internationally accepted standards, which SON ensures, will eliminate technical barriers to trade, making our products more competitive. I wish to assure the Organisation of the continued support of the Ministry in its efforts to achieve this objective.
Ezra Yakusak, Executive Director/CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council said that in the first half of 2022, Nigeria exported products worth $2.59bn.
The exports were higher than the $1.59 billion exported within the same period in 2021 by 62.37 per cent. It was also bigger than the $984m in exports recorded in 2020.
Katagum said, the improvement of standards is important to the growth of small businesses that are striving to expand their reach through export.
According to the minister, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a large block that would help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria reach out to other markets.
She added, “The role of SON in achieving this is obvious as the assurance of adherence to internationally accepted standards, which SON ensures, will eliminate technical barriers to trade, making our products more competitive. I wish to assure the Organisation of the continued support of the Ministry in its efforts to achieve this objective.”
The DG of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, while acknowledging the modest achievements and strides of SON in the last 50 years, said his vision for the Organsation in the next 50 years is to be the foremost standardisation body in Africa and among the top ranking globally.
He said while this vision is achievable, the Organisation will need to surmount severe challenges such as changes in government policies like the often removing the of Organisation at points of entry, and foreign trade policy of some Governments that actively encourage exportation of substandard products.
He also listed the challenge of low disposable income that drives purchase of substandard products, huge population growth with limited resources giving rise to communal restiveness, limited research and development activities to keep pace with rapid innovation in the society among others.
He said, “To meet the expected challenges, the we need to evolve as a dynamic and innovative body investing in the following critical areas efficient workforce with the required skill set, appropriate and strategic infrastructure.
“In the course of this programme, State Offices and Staff who have rendered exemplary services will be recognised and rewarded.