Ahead of the commencement of the Common External Tariff (CET) regime across West Africa in 2015, Nigerian manufacturers are strategising on how to consolidate on their penetration of the regional market.
The private BusinessDay newspaper reported Monday that the manufacturers are taking steps to check the increasing infiltration of the regional market by Asian and European exporters.
”We are making strategic plans to occupy the West African markets. In Cameroon, we are champions as China has no foothold there. We are in Ghana, Burkina Faso and other ECOWAS markets,” the paper quoted an unnamed member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Group (MANEG) as saying,
Manufactured products exported to the region within the last one year included tobacco products, plastics, rubber footwear, noodles, insecticides and beverages.
Others include poly bags, tomato paste and insecticides.
”Do you know that bathroom slippers (footwear) is in high demand in Burkina Faso? There are so many unexploited opportunities in the region and we are prepared as the CET approaches,” another member of MANEG, Tunde Oyelola, was quoted as saying.
However, most of the export commodities within the period under review were agricultural products, which often serve as raw materials for European and Asian companies.
For example, cocoa, which is a raw material in beverage firms, occupied 26% of the country’s total non-oil export commodities recorded with the period.
Others were goat skin, cashew nuts, ground nuts, rubber, edible nuts and sheep, among others.
According to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the total non-oil transactions made by Nigeria in ECOWAS in 2013 were worth US$375.34 million.
The CET regime is set to begin on 1 Jan. 2015, aimed at achieving uniformity in tariff among the 15 ECOWAS member states and throwing boundaries open for exporters.
But Nigerian manufacturers, who are expected to compete during the regime, face enormous challenges, ranging from high energy cost due to unsteady power supply to lack of price competitiveness, poor infrastructure, multiplicity of taxes, gridlocks at ports and difficulties in accessing raw materials.