The Federal Government has inaugurated a Task Force to produce a policy framework for the establishment of Nigerian Foreign Trade Academy (NFTA).
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, while inaugurating the task force in Abuja, said that the move was to update skills and capacity of Nigerians through training and research.
According to the minister, the academy, when established, will help in training trade experts who will be able to negotiate on behalf of Nigerians in various trade practices.
Adebayo explained that the basic goal of the academy was to ensure that trade issues were properly digested by various stakeholders and applied in various roles in the Nigerian economy.
He added that the task force may recommend appropriate structure or framework either by an affiliated institution, a collaborative programme with a university or an independent government Think-Tank.
“A key priority for setting up the academy is to improve trade data and information which can help to drive this initiative forward. We need to ensure that entrepreneurs become aware of and have access to the existing tools.
“We should also embark on joint research project to deepen the understanding of the linkages between trade, investment industrial policies as well as other sectoral policies.
“The task force will be imperative through all stages of development of the NFTA, it will also serve as an advisory board but will liaise with all stakeholders and relevant agencies until completion,’’ he said.
Adebayo said that the ministry sought for technocrats, innovative and creative minds from all departments in the ministry to deliver the noble framework for the trade academy.
According to him, it is vital for trade to play its full role in powering development as foreseen in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The minister noted that due to the evolving nature of trade, it was necessary to have a centre of excellence for training of trade policy experts responsible for monitoring and negotiating trade rules in contemporary world.
He, however, noted that the setting up of a foreign trade academy was long overdue, hence it needed to improve and update trade and trade-related policies fit for the challenges of today’s world reality.
According to him, if trade is well managed, it can reduce poverty, bring rapid economic development and also can be beneficial to the poor if accompanied by domestic policies that promote pro-poor growth strategies.
Adebayo encouraged the public, private and development partners to support the ministry to take full advantage of the investment opportunities the academy would offer to grow the economy.
The minister also urged the task force members to ensure that the framework was connected to the challenges in global trading system and ensure it delivered its task before the end of 2020.
He commended the Permanent Secretary, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, for his timely initiative and determination to steer the process of establishing the NFTA.
Earlier, Sani-Gwarzo, also the Task Force Chairman, explained that emerging technology and digital revolution were fast changing the way businesses were done globally.
He said that based on this, there was a growing need to mainstream trade into national development through strategic planning and investment because issues of trade were becoming competitive.
Sani-Gwarzo noted that engaging with the global community on trade and multilateralism required professionals in trade policy, who were constantly trained and retrained using modern techniques on emerging trends in international trade negotiations, hence the need for NFTA.
He said that the setting up of NFTA would no doubt produce abundant human capacity in all trade-related disciplines, as well as save Nigeria, the huge foreign exchange usually expended to train officials overseas.
The permanent secretary, however, commended the Dangote Group for partnering with the ministry in the building of the academy.
Speaking on the Terms of Reference of the task force, which he said was challenging even as the opportunities were massive, he reassured the team of the ministry’s support to enable it succeed.
“In line with the terms of reference, you are to co-opt experts from the public and private sector to assist your job.