Nigeria’s borders to remain closed till we can trust our neighbours- Trade Negotiator

Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Victor Liman, announced that despite Nigeria agreeing to ratify the agreement, our land borders will remain closed until Nigeria can ensure West African neighbours don’t dump substandard goods into the market. Mr. Liman said this in an interview with Arise TV on Thursday that the AfCFTA is a large opportunity for Nigeria as it exposes Nigerian producers to a large market. “Our major focus is AfCFTA, as we are looking at a market of 1.2 billion people, it’s a big big market. Our focus would be to boost intra African trade from 17% to 25% as forecasted for 2025, and in the next couple of years move up to 50%.

“If we are able to trade up to the extent of 50% or thereabout, you are looking at a market size that would accommodate Nigeria’s trading interest. We need to put in effort to ensure that the AfCFTA works.” He added that Nigeria needs to put in place structures to ensure Nigeria remains competitive in the agreement, especially securing the borders. “We need to put in place rules to avoid countries or other forms of malfeasance affecting out trade interests, that means we need to be able to put our house in order in terms of our borders. We need to be more competitive, we need to be able to ramp up on our manufacturing, we need to have the right kinds of regulations. We have to be realistic, if border are not secure, we have a trade problem and national security problem. Every country needs to have a credible secure border, policy frameworks need to be put together that people can trace across borders without fear of violence. I believe and I know that Nigeria is running round the clock to make sure borders are secure from smuggling. Nigeria needs to sit with neighbouring countries and say, if you do not secure your border, then we we would do A, B, C, put a sanction on you. Every stakeholder needs to take this on board to ensure that we need to have a secure border.”

Liman also added that Nigeria’s borders will only open when the FG can ensure Nigeria is not used to dump goods, as protecting that credible Customs cooperation is needed in West Africa to ensure an open border. “The fact you are going into a free trade agreement does not mean you can’t secure your country, or can’t take steps to tackle trade malpractices, or take steps to address smuggling or “These are credible sovereign issues that countries can take steps to address. We need to take our time and ensure our borders are working, and ensure we have effective Customs management and cooperative assistance across the ECOWAS region. “Borders will be open when we are sure and confident that we can trust our neighbours not to come in and dump on our market and bring in substandard products.”

Federal Government had said that it has ratified Nigeria’s membership to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) ahead of the December 5, 2020 deadline. The agreement goes into effect from the 1st of January 2021. Yewande Sadiku, CEO of Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), said in September that Nigeria was more ready for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) due to her domestic market manufacturing value addition capacity which is 7 times the average of the top 20 economies in Africa and other. Tola Onayemi, Head, Trade Remedies Unit National Office for Trade Negotiations,said in September that trade remedies to protect Nigerian producers from unfair and injurious trade practices from foreign companies that harm domestic industries were key factors for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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