In recent decades, export competitiveness in the era of globalization has been at the heart of domestic economic growth and development debates. Against the background of growing disparity in income between the developed and the developing world, due largely to divergence in industrial capacity, the central question has always been: what can and should be done in developing countries to boost export growth and diversification, and enhance competitiveness in international markets?
In 2007, a leading economist at the MIT, Alice H Amsden noted that the gamut of policies, practices and institutions which led to the rapid skill formation and industrialization in successful exporting
countries of the developing world was carefully built, diligently developed and tested over many years, led to trade protectionism, competitive pricing and the establishment of Export Processing zones which afforded access to imported input at world prices and often more advantages.
In Nigeria, no bank understands the intricacies of export growth, export development, export diversification and export competitiveness more than the Nigerian Export-Import Bank – NEXIM Bank, the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria. Established in 1991 by Act 38 of 1991 originally as an Export Credit Agency, owned equally by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI), NEXIM has since 2009 reformed its processes and redefined its focus to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil sector through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies; risk-bearing facilities through export credit guarantee & export credit insurance; business development and financial advisory services etc.
In pursuit of this renewed mandate of promoting export diversification and deepening the non-oil sector, the Bank’s current strategic initiatives are targeted towards boosting employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in the Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals and Services (Tourism, Transportation and Entertainment) industries – The MASS Agenda of NEXIM Bank.
The Bank is concerned with the competitiveness of Nigeria’s products and services in foreign markets. According to the MD/CEO of NEXIM, Mr. Roberts Orya, Nigerian exporters have looked away from their traditional market of West Africa and the African region, and focused on the markets of Europe and Americas despite not having the competitive edge. This is different from the practice of the most successful exporters of the developing world including South Korea, Turkey, China, India, Brazil, etc., which for strategic commercial reasons, entrenched their regional competitiveness before venturing outside their core trading blocs.
NEXIM understands that export-competitiveness requires actions at the highest national level. No doubt, the Administration of His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, in pursuit of the Transformation Agenda, is showing strong political commitment to boost Nigeria’s export-competitiveness.
Just recently, at the inauguration of the new NEXIM Bank Board as reconstituted by President Goodluck Jonathan for improved performance, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed satisfaction at the achievements of NEXIM and restated Government’s determination to trade expansion. The CME said that, “…the Government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has embarked on a path of transforming the economy; trying to work with our private sector to expand trade, particularly regional trade, incorporating the West African zone and even beyond…”
She charged the new Board to understand that NEXIM has a responsibility if Nigeria is going to play its role of being the powerhouse within the West Africa sub-region, and beyond.
NEXIM takes developmental rather than a purely financial-return-maximisation approach in its lending. The Bank focuses on the identification, development and financing of projects that agrees with national objectives on private sector development and non-oil export.
NEXIM Bank received commendations from its Shareholders for its support to the Creative and Entertainment sector, and facilitation of the establishment of the Sealink Project, which will boost access by Nigerian exporters to the ECOWAS and Central African markets.
The shareholders of the Bank have given it the approval to strengthen its balance sheet, including attracting offshore lines of credit.
Already, NEXIM has partnerships with many overseas financial institutions, like the African Development Bank, Afrexim Bank, Islamic Development Bank, India EXIM, to name a few.
With the inauguration of the bank’s board headed by the Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, CBN, Dr. Sarah Alade, it is expected that the nation’s export trade policy will strengthen, even as NEXIM Bank continues to grow its funding interventions and export advisory services.
Head, Corporate Communication Department