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By NBF News
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Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mr Dauda Kigbo, has said that the volume of trade among African countries, especially in the non-oil sector, has been on steady decline in recent years.  Kigbo, represented by the Executive Director of the the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Mr David Adulugba, made the statement in Abuja at the opening of a three-day workshop on 'Enhancing National Export Competitiveness Strategies'.

'In 2011 the volume of trade was in the region of 13.48 per cent among African countries. This figure compares with 53.48 per cent and 23.06 per cent of Nigeria's non-oil export to Europe and Asia, respectively. ' Kigbo cited some factors as being responsible for the low trade, naming some of the factors as costs of production, logistics and trade barriers, among others.

'This made our goods less competitive for trade among us as well as other regions of the world. ' The permanent secretary said that the workshop was expected to address strategies required to facilitate export of goods and services within African countries. He said that the workshop would also focus on innovation, knowledge, research and development to ensure sustainable competitiveness.

Kigbo called on the workshop participants to provide the needed impetus for achieving the benefits of trade among African countries, describing the workshop as a platform for sharing the experience of representatives from different countries in Africa.

'And this implies bringing together different ideas and experiences which will make each one of us better educated in understanding our similarities and differences. '.  Dr Samuel Ortom, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, expressed optimism that non-oil export was a key player in economic development. He said that striving to be competitive in the international market place was one of the basic foundations for economic growth of any nation.

According to the minister, the main thrust of the current government of Nigeria is premised on an economic transformation agenda which includes an aggressive export drive. Ortom said that the ministry was working on accelerated implementation of the Nigerian export strategy that would pave way for economic growth.

The workshop is jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment. Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra-Leone, Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Rwanda and Ghana are among the countries participating in the workshop.