President Muhammadu Buhari has flagged-off the 17th edition of the Abuja International Trade fair organized by the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
The event which had as its theme, “Creating an import ready market through SME digitization,” attracted investors, businesses and customers from across the country and also other parts of the world.
The president who described the theme of the event as apt, stated that the theme is in line with one of the nine priority areas of this administration.
Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, praised the ACCI for their efforts in ensuring the success of the exhibition.
He said trade plays a significant role in the economic growth of any nation as it helps to build wealth and improve foreign reserves.
According to him, trade is key to ending poverty across countries, raising standards of living and improving productivity, noting that no economy can thrive without robust trade.
He said, “The MSME segment is critical to the stimulation of economic development. This trade fair provides an opportunity to change the narrative of what MSMEs are and demonstrates how innovative they can be.
“The Federal Government is keen to help MSMEs achieve their full potential and has developed strategic policy interventions, enshrined laws and established institutions to create a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
“In line with this, FMITI has developed a programme that will enhance access to credit for over 10 million MSMEs at single digit rate. Aside from provision of finance, this project will address key ecosystem issues such as development of MSME clusters to lower operating costs as well as capacity building initiatives.”
Buhari stated that the Ministry has also commenced the process of adopting a centralised automated platform for the registration of Trademarks, Patents and Designs.
The overall objective, he stated, is to fully digitize existing records and automate the registration process to enable ownership and commercialization of innovation.
Buhari explained further that while the Federal Government is doing its part, there is need to rethink the impression that MSMEs are small businesses and focus on how they can be energized as vehicles for economic growth.
“As always, the Federal Government remains committed to ensuring ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive,” he added.
In his address at the event, the President of ACCI, Dr Al Mujtaba Abubakar, said the Trade Fair has over the years become a platform where businesses across Nigeria, Africa and other part of the world gather for business connectivity and linkages.
He described the Abuja International Trade Fair as a standard platform for brand establishment that brings together various aspects of trade and industry, foreign ambassadors, decision-makers, business delegations, entrepreneurs, and innovators.
Since inception, the ACCI President said the Trade Fair has served Nigeria as a trusted global trade destination and a potential market for over 50,000 consumers.
He said, “The Trade Fair is a unique event that provides opportunities for manufacturers to communicate with product end users, handle customer complaints, and reward brands, thereby promoting businesses.
“The 17th AITF focuses on exports. Digitization offers a range of opportunities for SMEs to improve performance, spur innovation, enhance productivity and compete on a more even footing with larger firms, reflecting: economies of scale; lower operation and transaction costs; and reduced information
“Digital tools bring many significant benefits for firms as digitalization reduces transaction costs by providing better and quicker access to information, and communication between businesses, suppliers and networks.
“Over the past decade, the emergence of increasingly powerful digital technologies and digital infrastructures have transformed and continue to transform business processes, organizations, and corporate culture with new innovation processes, marketing models, and types of products/services.
“It is fast becoming an increasingly central issue for companies. This explained why the objective of this fair is create an export ready market for SMEs.”
Aside promoting businesses, he said the 17th AITF will also strengthen trade and investment opportunities in the country, thus, offering a neutral and open atmosphere for blue chip companies, trade groups/associations, and government.