The Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) says regional integration is pivotal to economic prosperity and a key step towards unlocking Nigeria’s economic potential.
The bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tony Okpanachi stated this in a paper entitled, “Unlocking Nigeria’s Economic Potentials through Regional Integration”.
Okpanachi presented the paper in Kaduna, at the 41st Kaduna International Trade Fair Seminar, organised by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA).
He said that regional integration would open various opportunities for both economic, political and cultural developments and facilitates large scale investments through reinforced attractiveness of Nigeria’s economies while reducing risks.
According to him, regional integration through trade offers preferential access to a much bigger single continental market for goods and services worth $416 billion and $121.8 billion dollars respectively.
“It will increase investments in the real sector, which provides opportunity to grow and diversify non-oil exports and improve export capacity.
“It will lead to the liberalisation of priority sectors that constitutes the country’s top imported products and services.
“This in the long run will lower cost of imports from African countries and drive down the cost of production of Nigerian products, thereby increasing demand
.“Regional integration through trade will equally improve the country ’s attractiveness for foreign direct investments
“Not only that, it will lead to the resolution of some of the trade-related issues currently plaguing Nigeria in ECOWAS including, smuggling, abuses of rules of origin and other predatory trade practices.”
The DBN boss, however, noted that tapping the maximum benefits of regional integragion depended on Nigeria’s ability to exploit the African market in terms of access, productive and service capacity and quality infrastructure.
He noted that the benefits would also depend on the ability of the country’s physical infrastructure, such as power and transportation to produce and transport goods for export markets competitively.
“It also depends on the trade environment, which focuses on the ability for trade facilitations, ease of doing business, cost of money and our fiscal and monetary policies.
“It equally depends on Nigeria’s ability to enforce its domestic and international trade rules and obligations,” he added.
Okpanachi, therefore, urged the Nigerian government to operationalise existing trade agreements that included provisions to deal with trade barriers and settling trade disputes.
He also stressed the need to implement policies and financial interventions to restore the financial viability of the power sector, improve service delivery and reduce losses.
He equally urged the Federal Government to develop a sustainable financing strategy to upgrade and maintain the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly those on the export corridors.
“The country must also resolve issues preventing the full implementation of existing customs cooperation agreements, harmonising data requirements and updating existing bilateral agreements between Nigeria and neighboring countries, including coordinated border management.
“Update existing policies and measures to address supply side constraints of businesses, especially the strategic sectors, products and services.
“Develop productive capacity across the value chain in manufacturing, agriculture, services and other industries sectors and deepen access to finance to the real sector,” he said.
He reiterated DBN’s commitment to enhancing the competitiveness of the real sector through the provision of the right types of loans, de-risking the sector and capacity building.
“We remain committed to leveraging partnerships that align with our mandate to further deepen and achieve a catalytic impact of sustainable growth for our great country,” he said. (NAN)