WORLD leaders have lauded Nigeria’s initiative that facilitated the first-ever global trade reform agreement, which has the potential to add $1 trillion to the global economy. The agreement followed five-days of negotiations in Bali, Indonesia. The outcome of the agreement is an offshoot of the work done at the World Trade Organisation, WTO’s, eighth ministerial conference in Geneva, where it was agreed that the WTO should end the fruitless years of negotiations and identify key elements of the Doha Round, where agreements could be reached with a view to delivering a package in those areas.
The world’s trade ministers said the helpful leadership of Olusegun Aganga, Nigerian minister of industry, trade and investment, (who chaired the MC8), helped in the early resolution of the contending issues at the just concluded ninth ministerial conference. The Swiss delegation commended Nigeria’s leadership of the MC8, saying it helped in no small way to reach the MC9 consensus. The delegation, which has invited Aganga to Davos in January, said members want to continue engagement with Aganga in view of the quality of leadership he displayed.
It said Aganga’s experience would help address many issues. The 159 member countries of the WTO came to Bali for the MC9, knowing that it was either a deal was struck regarding the three packages on the table or the WTO would lose its integrity. “For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered. This time, the entire membership came together. We have put the ‘world’ back in the World Trade Organisation,” Roberto Azevedo, WTO, director-general told exhausted ministers after the long but fruitful talks.
There were three main items in the package – trade facilitation (to streamline customs procedures and minimise unnecessary border delays, delivering jobs and opportunities in times of unemployment and slow growth); agriculture and development issues, which apply mainly to Least Developed Countries, LDCs. On the whole, agreements were reached at the end, including the reaffirmation of the non-discrimination principle of Article V of GATT 1994; public stockholding for food security purposes; duty-free and quota-free market access for least developed countries, among others.
NEITI’s Crave for Operational Excellence
THE Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, seeks to achieve operational excellence in regulation and enforcement across the extractive industries in 2014. In a statement made available on its website, NEITI stated that it would develop an effective comprehensive framework for the delivery of effective audit, continuous monitoring and evaluation, stronger regulation, enforcement and compliance management.
The work plan for next year may have been triggered off by the controversies that trailed the 2012 report, which questioned its veracity and the selection of two firms by NEITI to conduct the audit of the oil and gas as well as solid minerals industries. Some civil society groups had accused the agency of neglecting transparency in the selection process that threw up the two firms considered largely unknown. Questions were also raised by civil society organizations against the experience and the technical capacity of the companies to handle a complex assignment as the audit of the country’s oil and gas industry and the solid minerals sector.
NEITI, in its statement, said it would develop a robust multi-stakeholder communication and mobilization strategy and framework for effective stakeholder relationship management, collaboration and cooperation. According to the statement, “NEITI would develop organizational and funding capacity to achieve the NEITI mandate, vision and strategy.
Why Foreign Direct Investment is Trickling
THE weak nature of the small and medium-scale enterprises sector is currently hampering the inflow of foreign direct investment into the country. Mustafa Bello, executive secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, said this on Monday, December 9, in Abuja during the ninth National Conference on Investment.
The conference with the theme, “Building linkages for competitive and responsible entrepreneurship in Nigeria,” was attended by relevant investment promotion agencies and development institutions from both the public and private sectors of the economy. It was organised to mobilise broad-based support and provide a roadmap towards creating an enabling investment environment for Nigeria.
Bello, while quoting statistics from the International Finance Corporation, lamented that though the SMEs constituted 96 percent of Nigeria’s businesses in general and 90 percent of the manufacturing sector only contributed about one percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
The one percent contribution to GDP, he added, was low when compared to the 40 percent contributed by SMEs in Asian countries and 50 percent in the United States and Europe. “There is no gainsaying that the engine of industrial development in any economy is the small and medium enterprises sector,” he said.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Jan. 6, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT