•Total import, export air cargo remains weak

By Prince Okafor

There are indications that outbound air cargo has stagnated over the past one year despite clamour for export-driven economic growth.

Findings by Vanguard Aviation World from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, show that outbound air cargo in the second quarter ended June 30, 2022, (Q2’22)  recorded a decline of two per cent or N680 million to N30.1 billion in Q2’22 from N30.78 billion in the first quarter of 2022, Q1’22.

The Q2’22 also indicates a 5.0 per cent or N1.6 billion decline from the N31.7 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2021, Q2’21.

A breakdown of the air cargo figure shows that inbound cargo also declined during the period to N256 billion, 23 per cent lower than N326 billion recorded in Q1’22.

The inbound figure represents a significant 10 per cent decline on a Year-on-Year, YoY, against N358.7 billion recorded in Q2’21.

Overall, the statistics indicate that most airplanes bringing in air cargo into the country leaves the country with little or no cargo, also meaning excessive imports and minimal exports.

Meanwhile, a further breakdown of the development showed that air transportation recorded 0.41 per cent share of domestic export, and 4.9 per cent share of total import.

In terms of exports transaction, the report noted that, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, came fourth among the top five major ports of operations with goods valued at N28 million. The bulk of export transactions were carried through Apapa Port with goods valued at N7 billion or 93.16 per cent of total exports.

Also, during the period under review, MMIA, along with Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja were among the top 10 posts/ports of operation of trade for export, while Muhammed Murtala Cargo and Kano airport emerged amongst the top 10 for import.

Stakeholder reacts

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Export Group, Mrs. Bosun Solarin, while commenting on the problems of limited export production, stated that Nigerians are more interested in importation of goods rather than promoting export, and the more government tries to make policies against this, the more our people devise ways to circumvent it. 

She said: “We must as a people develop the willingness to help this country out of its predicaments. We must deliberately embrace exportation through deliberate support to/for players in the sector.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has come up with various policies, but businesses/exporters are saying, they cannot be sourcing Foreign Exchange, FX, even for payment of export charges, at very high rates and the CBN will be asking for the same FX at a very low rate; that the N65 incentive which when added together, is less than N500, this needs to be critically looked into, otherwise the RT200FX may just be a cliché. 

“International transportation continues to be a crucial enabler to World Trade and its attendant consequences on the economic growth of nations, the cost of moving goods vary greatly between nations, routes and directions, especially air transportation.

“According to UNCTAD, least developed countries (LDCs) frequently pay above-average costs for International Shipping and Insurance. We need to reduce the average cost of moving goods across Africa. We must also look into issues surrounding high percentage of missed supply deadlines, rate of orders that arrived damaged, frequency of wrong orders received, out-of-stock items which affect customers’ confidence as a result of the length of time it takes for the goods to be transported.”

Nigerian traders lament massive losses

Also, the development has threatened means of livelihood of Nigerians, as recently, businessmen operating in the country lamented the unfavourable trade imbalance between them and their foreign counterparts.

The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, had disclosed that the country loses about $362.5 million annually in terms of foreign exchange to the ban on the exportation of dried beans in the last eight years.

Also, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control lamented that over 76 per cent of the country’s commodities are often rejected by the European Union for not meeting required standards.

Vanguard Aviation World findings also revealed that the European Union had banned beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish, dried meat, peanut ships, groundnut, palm oil and yam, for not meeting the required standards.

They also claimed that beans contain between 0.03mg kilograms to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos (pesticides) contrary to acceptable limits, stressing that they constitute a danger to human health because of high levels of pesticides.

However, an exporter, trader and Public Relations Officer of the West African Road Transport Union, WARTU, Salami Nasiru, told Vanguard Aviation World that most of us are not educated and enlightened on the necessary regulatory processes required to export our products, thereby suffering rejection in the international market.

“Nigeria is a very big market with more small-scale manufacturers having a highly expensive purchasing power compared to the export price. According to him, this has greatly discouraged the export rate in the country.

“If people are not well enlightened, we would always get the same issues. The two major issues in exports are quality and packaging.”

FG wades in

As a move towards addressing the constant rejection of Nigeria’s export, the FG through the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, said it is leading an inter-agency team to the United Kingdom as part of efforts to address incidences of export rejects.

The objective of the five–day visit, according to NEPC, is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures.

NEPC’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Ndubueze Okeke, in a statement, quoted the Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak, as saying that cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regimes on Nigerian exports in the importing countries.

“In some cases, this has led to the suspension or ban of some products. It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes a financial burden to the exporter.

“The exporters have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.’

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.