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FG, EU seek legal framework for product specifications, export expansion

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The Federal Government in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and Africa International Trade and Commerce Research (AITCR), have intensified efforts to ensure product specification.

This they said is aimed at increasing the volume of exported unique products in Nigeria.

This came to the fore during the week at the National Conference on Creation of Legal and Institutional Framework for Geographical Indications, in Abuja.

In his keynote address, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Otunba Adebayo commended the EU and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for funding the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa (AfriPi project).

According to him, Geographical Indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

He stated that the AfriPI Project has gone a long way in supporting African companies, creators and inventors to generate value from their intellectual property.
“For many years, stakeholders from both the public and private sector in Nigeria have worked hard to promote and draw attention to geographical indications and other forms of intellectual property protection in Nigeria.
“The benefits obtainable from geographical indications in Nigeria are immense. Nigeria Is one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world.
“We can boast of a wide variety of products that can be classified as GI.
“These range from the popular Ijebu garri to Nsukka Yellow Pepper, the Sokoto Red Skin Goat and the famous Yauri Onions.
“Unfortunately, poor knowledge of geographical Indications and the absence of a specific legal framework has rendered our unique products more vulnerable to misappropriation”, he added.
The Minister mentioned that poor knowledge of the Geographical Indications (GI) and absence of a specific legal framework has continued to render Nigeria’s products more vulnerable to misappropriation.
He assured that Federal Government is committed to ensuring that Nigeria exports more finished goods, adding that GI would play a major role in supporting Nigerian producers generate greater value.
“Agri-food and drink products which have names that are protected by the European Union as geographical indications represent a sales value of about €75 billion.
“Currently over one fifth of this amount Is generated by exports that originate outside of the European Union. This presents a huge opportunity for indigenous exporters who can now capitalize on improved product reputation and the willingness of consumers to pay a premium for authentic products.
“Many potential Nigerian Gis originate in rural areas that are challenged by extreme poverty and socio-economic issues.
“Studies have established that the sales value of products associated with Gis is on average, twice that of similar products. Geographical indications provide opportunities for some of Nigeria’s most impoverished areas to participate in the exportation of non-oil products, earn fair compensation and drive much needed development.
“As all the stakeholders here are aware, geographical indication protection is not limited to agricultural produce but extends to a wide range of products induding, handicrafts, industrial products and prepackaged personal care products to name a few”, Adebayo said.

Speaking with newsmen shortly after the conference, Mr. Sand Mba-Kalu, Executive Director at Africa International Trade and Commerce Research (AITCR), noted Geographical Indication is the hope for the common man as it would help to put their names in the global market.

He reaffirmed that it will bring development and economy sustainability process to use our local products for export market and to our local communities as well as create employment in the rural areas.

Also speaking during the conference, Head of European Union Intellectual Property, Ignacio Medrano noted that they are convinced that with the protection of geographical indications, it will potentially increase the exports and tourism in Nigeria because of the quality of the products that Nigeria have.

EUIPO is supporting AFTIPI program of a legal framework for geographical indication and there are many activities trying to raise awareness about intellectual property in the African continent.

A member of the working committee, Mr. Mark Abani underscored the importance of having a legal framework.

He mentioned that members of the working committee was drwan from a wide range of experience and skills, that way they are able to develop a robust outline that would cater for all interests.

On her part, Tolu Olaloye, a member of the working committee, noted that one of the best practices that should adopted was scrutiny that would be done by a registrar, that would look at the value and origin of a product to aoid mixups.
She stated that generic name should not be allowed as a provision in the European laws do not petmit that.

The Director General for Agriculture and Rural Development for the European Commission, john Clarke, on his part said agriculture has huge potentials for export in Nigeria.

Clarke reaffirmed that with a proper framework for farmers, the country’s economy will grow rapidly due to abundant agriculture unique varieties that will be exported.

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Economy

Edun harps on inter-agency collaboration to drive economic growth, attract investments

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To ensure full implementation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 8-Point Agenda which is aimed at boosting economic growth and development to attract foreign investors and expertise into the country, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has urged Heads of Agencies and Parastatals under his Ministry to work together.
Speaking during a quarterly performance review briefing with Heads of Agencies and Parastatals in Abuja, the Minister emphasized the importance of synergy and effective implementation to achieve the goals outlined in the President’s blueprint.
Director of Information and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga in a statement quoted the minister to have described the gathering as very crucial benchmark where they can brain storm on where they need to get to and how they intend to get there

He highlighted the progress made so far under the present Administration and encouraged the Agencies and Parastatals within his jurisdiction to continue working together so as to drive economic growth and prosperity for all Nigerians.

He indicated that the meeting would also serve as a benchmark towards the implementation of the performance bond signed by Mr. President, which is aimed at reviewing the achievements made in the last one year, address challenges and chart a way forward for improved performance of the Ministry.

“We have all signed performance bonds. We all know the plan and blueprint, which are the eight point agenda of Mr. President. It has been categorised as a house. “The pillars are the fundamentals that you need for the Economy and society to thrive that is, security, rule of law, and at the very top is the roof, that is, the outcomes: food security and other measures of a good standard.
“Our collective efforts and shared commitment is not only pivotal in ensuring the efficient and effective management of the nation’s economy, but should also go a long way in facilitating the realization of the agenda of Mr. President*, he said

Edun explained further that the
call to action was imperative, especially as it is expected to galvanize the agencies to work collaboratively and efficiently towards achieving the objectives of the 8-point agenda.

The Minister pointed out that by working together, the Agencies can help create a conducive environment for economic growth, attract investors, and make opportunities available for Nigerians to thrive.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led-Administration has helped stabilize the exchange rate and is working towards lower interest rates that would invite the bases for additional investments in the nation.

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to pursue the achievements of our deliverables with diligence and determination by establishing clear targets, timelines, and consequences for non- compliance with our respective Agencies/Parastatals.
“We can help to create a framework that incenticizes excellence and service delivery as well as build the needed synergy and partnership that can facilitate the implementation of the transformative economic policies of this administration.” Edun said

The Minister expressed optimism that with the calibre of persons heading the Agencies under his stewardship, the Ministry is sure to deliver on its mandate in compliance with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Lydia Shehu Jafiya, stated that the
engagement would provide a unique platform for robust discussions, especially in the area of implementation of the transformative policies of the present administration, which she said, aims at improving the nation’s economy, promoting job creation, and poverty reduction as well as a safety environment that will attract investments into the country.

She assured that the Ministry will continue to provide an enabling environment for the full implementation of the policies, programmes and projects of the Federal Government, in line with its mandate.

Also speaking, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Mr. Okokon Ekenam Udo advised the Agencies to collectively align their efforts with the fiscal goals set by the Federal Government with a view to ensuring the realization of its policy objective.

He therefore called on them to bring in their wealth of experience to bear in making sure that the Agencies deliver on their respective mandates in accordance with the policy thrust of the present administration.

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Economy

CUPP scribe expresses concern over exodus of foreign investors

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***Says, APC ABRACADABRA Propaganda can not solve the problem

The National Secretary of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) High Chief Peter Ameh has bemoaned the downturn in the investment climate occasioned by insecurity that is causing apprehension among foreign investors who are now leaving Nigeria in droves to other African countries.
Ameh spoke against the backdrop of the News that Microsoft is closing its office in Nigeria which he said is very disturbing.
The organization announced that they will close their Ikoyi office this week.
Ameh quoted the Managing Divecter of Okomu Oli Palm Pic, Graham Holter, who said it is absurd that they pay over N12 billion in taxes to government annually and still are left to fend and seek security for equipment and personnel themselves.
“What kind of Investment-friendly environment are you providing?”
Ameh lamented that situation is devastating and there is no end in sight.
“70% of crisis the country is facing today is the result of insecurity. Government must take the bull by the horn to address it now before it’s too late but those in Government will rather prefer to be harassing Journalists and opposition parties/leaders.

‘Without effective Security Measures for the country we are in danger of losing Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and at risk of losing the investors confidence in our economy.

“Security, good roads and train services will remain essential to ensure that we are able to protect our country from being abandoned by investors.”

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Economy

FG anticipates higher Investments, increased trade from G-24

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In its quest to bring tranquility to the tempestuous foreign exchange market the Federal Government has asked for investment and increased trading relationships from member countries of the G-24.
These will play a critical role in the country’s quest for growth as well as ensure a stable and growing economy.
Director of Information and Public Relations Mohammed Danjuma quoted the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, to have made the request at the ongoing World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings holding in Washington DC.

Represented by the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Minister informed the G-24, a group of countries working together to coordinate the positions of developing countries on international monetary and financial issues and indeed the global gathering that Nigerian Government, on its part, has administered a cocktail of intervention programmes and potent policies which are already yielding desired outcomes.

He explained that
the efforts of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration towards repositioning the economy
were already yielding desired outcomes, which has significantly narrowed the gap between the exchanges at the parallel market and the Nigeria Foreign Exchange Market.

Edun said that Nigeria was well positioned to attract investments in various sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, oil and gas, amongst others.

While responding to a question from a Russian journalist on areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Minister said that the last major investment of the Eastern European nation in Nigeria was the Ajaokuta Steel Company, which currently lies prostate over large sprawling greenfield.

He informed further that apart from Brazil, there is no country in the world with as much arable land as Nigeria, as such, the country should be a net exporter of food and not an importer.

Edun also justified the decision for the Dangote Refinery to work on meeting local demands of petroleum products before eyeing export markets.

“Does it make a meaning that domestic demand is not yet met and a company refines products and exports, while Nigeria goes and imports the same products from Europe?” he queried.

The Minister added that local refining would be encouraged until indigenous demand has been fully met, and then the nation can export products as well as earn foreign exchange from such exports.

On budget implementation, he said that the capital component of the 2023 supplementary budget was still being implemented and would run until June due to government’s determination to make impacts in various sectors.

The Minister added that the 2024 budget was being implemented as planned, assuring that the citizens would be better for it.

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