The Nigerian Exports Promotion Council (NEPC) has stressed the need to formalise Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, made the call on Tuesday in Lagos at a Stakeholders Sensitisation Programme on ICBT activities along the Seme and Okerete trade corridors.
Awolowo, represented by Andy Ambikputen, a Deputy Director at NEPC, said that mainstreaming the activities of informal cross border sector would engender the integration of more economic players into the formal export business.
The NEPC boss noted that a great measure of damage had been done to manufacturers, businesses and the national economy, with the continued closure of the land borders by the Federal Government.
He said that the closure had caused emerging security challenges and noticeable unwholesome practices, on the part of neighbouring countries.
Awolowo said in several African countries, including Nigeria, ICBT constituted a significant proportion of the informal sector activities and remained a major source of livelihood with enormous impact on food security.
He noted that the volume of the total ICBT was exceedingly great and had amounted to a greater volume of trade than that of the formal trade within the African continent.
He, however, said that checks and findings by key sector players revealed that the challenges facing this group of traders were more stringent than that of the official operators.
Awolowo said that several attempts had been made by NEPC to bring the government support closer to the informal cross-border traders.
“We are spearheading the diversification of the Nigerian economy by expanding the non-oil exports for a more sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
“I assure that NEPC would put machineries in place to work closely with the Informal Cross Border Traders to ensure seamless trade across international frontiers.
“Strategic efforts at promoting trade across Africa is our initiative with the organised private sector (OPS) to establish the Nigerian export houses across the African markets and beyond,” he said.