Trade: Nigeria needs border enforcement policy, not border closure- Agbakoba

… Says lack of trade policy making Nigeria dumping ground for foreign goods

Maritime lawyer and lead partner of Olisa Agbakoba Legal, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has called for a change of the border closure policy to a border enforcement policy, in order to comply with ECOWAS protocol and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

Recall that the Nigerian Government closed the nation’s borders in August 2019, as the Nigeria Customs Service battled rice smuggling, which a World Bank report stated that about 80 % of rice imports to neighbouring Benin Republic were destined for the Nigerian market.

Agbakoba noted that Nigeria has no trade policy, thus making the nation a major dumping ground for foreign goods and losing the creation of millions of jobs as well as inability to grow local industries for the expansion of the economy.

He said: “We spend billions of dollars importing basic food commodities that can grow locally. We must grow what we eat.  We need to reverse this with a robust trade policy.

Explaining the trade policy, Agbakoba said: “Trade policy refers to the rules and regulations on imports, exports, tariffs, duty etc. Trade policy rests on a tripod of critical factors – import substitution, tariffs, border enforcement and compliance.

“We need to enact trade remedies legislation and a trade Expansion Act.  These legislation will impose anti-dumping duties on non-essential products.

“There are also special duties and measures we can impose on exports into Nigeria which are subsidized by a foreign country.”

He explained that “the trade remedies legislation will prohibit imports if it is adjudged that they will cause material injury to local industries, for example by impeding local growth.”

He also advised that it is important to enact legislation that would support the recently established Nigerian Office for trade negotiation (NOTN).

He said it is crucial that the office is elevated to ministerial level, just as he called for a need to establish a National Customs and Border Enforcement Services.

He added: “This Border Enforcement Services will need new legislation to merge immigration and customs services. The Border Enforcement Service will replicate the US Customs and Border Enforcement Agency.”

According to Agbakoba, the merit of merging both services is that, it would reduce duplication and proliferation of agencies at the borders.


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