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FG HAILS NIGERIA’S NEW TRADE POLICY DRAFT

Posted on: 04 Apr 2012

The Committee on the Review of Nigeria’s Trade Policy, recently submitted its report/draft strategy to the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, in Abuja.

The report, which is now ready for the input and approval of stakeholders, will lead to the birth of a workable and result-oriented trade and investment policy very soon.

The committee, which is headed by Chairman/Executive Director, Centre for Trade and Development Initiatives, Prof. Ademola Oyejide, was inaugurated last year.

It (committee) is to review the country’s existing trade policies in line with the nation’s Transformation Agenda and make necessary recommendations to the government. Nigeria last reviewed its Trade Policy ten years ago.

While receiving the committee’s report, the trade and investment minister noted that the new trade policy would provide a comprehensive roadmap for boosting Nigeria’s domestic, regional and international trade as well as facilitate the inflow of investments into the country.

He said that his ministry’s strategy to make Nigeria the hub of trade and investment in Africa, and globally, would focus on areas where the country currently had comparative and competitive advantage.

He said, “The Committee has done a good job and I am actually excited about it. The last time we did something like this was ten years ago. So, for the first time in ten years, we are going to have a policy that looks modern, comprehensive and looks across all the sectors of the economy, including services.

“In most countries of the world, the services sector actually contributes the largest part of their Gross Domestic Product. If we focus on services alone, it is a sector that can create a lot of employment for our people apart from the positive impact it will have on our economy.

“Also, the trade policy will focus on value addition. The idea is that, rather than exporting iron ore, we want to export steel; instead of exporting limestone, we want to export cement. So, focusing on value addition will enable us to create jobs, generate wealth and transform our economy.

“Overall, we want to have a policy that will not only look at the sectors that we have neglected for so long, but that will also help us leverage those areas where we have competitive and comparative advantage,” he added.

He said that the work done by the committee and the recommendations made were evidence-based and backed with studies.

He added that “I want to look at the policy documents that have been submitted by the Committee Chairman as quickly as possible in the right way and also ensure that we carry out proper consultations.

Aganga stated that the ministry would study the recommendations of the committee, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders in order to come up with a final policy that would serve the overall interest of the country by creating jobs, generating wealth and transforming the economy.

“We will leave room for consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, including our local exporters who are the major players. Also, the policy document will go through the National Focal Point for trade matters to get their views as well as the views and inputs from manufacturers. At the end of the day, we will come up with a document that all of us will be proud of,” he said.

Speaking during the presentation of the report to the minister, Oyejide, the Chairman of the Committee, said the committee had looked into some grey areas in the country’s past trade policies and made necessary recommendations on how they could be resolved.

He said, “We have looked at some of the areas that have been causing problems for us as a country. We commissioned studies to find out how other countries have dealt with problems like these in the past. The beautiful thing is that there is no World Trade Organisation rule which does not have its own flexibility.