Posted by News Express | 23 October 2019 | 1,099 times
The extended closure of Nigeria’s borders is beginning to attract hostility from the country’s neighbours, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has warned.
ANLCA National President, Hon. Tony Uju Nwabunike, in an interview published this morning in Vanguard, raised the alarm over attacks attempted on Nigerians by nationals of neighbouring states regarding the closure of Nigeria’s land borders. He also revealed efforts by neighbouring Francophone countries to unite in the area of diplomatic and bilateral trade, and the possible consequences such action has on the Nigerian economy.
Nwabunike expressed concern that the closure of the border could impact negatively on balance of trade.
His words: “I wrote the Comptroller General of Customs over the closure of land borders. My concerns were why the action soon after signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We only have crude oil as major export. If we are trying to compete with Morocco, Algeria, South Africa…how do we go about it?
“Let me tell you, Nigeria is not ready for the AfCFTA and it is going to be very difficult for us. We are going to face a lot of challenges. You see, it is dangerous for people to see you as the giant of Africa, but when it comes to trading you cannot fit in. There are so many products in the African market that is becoming borderless. That is the area I want the Federal Government to look at instead of total closure of the land borders.”
Continuing, the ANLCA National President said: “Whether under ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme or AfCFTA, we need to be able to balance our trade, but if you are not exporting only petroleum, then our country will become a dumping ground. The other African countries know we have the market and the population so we need to brace up, we need proactive policy ideas.
“I want the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, and other agricultural bodies to see AfCCTA as an opportunity to push Nigerian export, our products. I think that if Nigeria standardise its trade and adopt proactive trans-border trade without imposing too many import ban through the land border, smuggling will reduce. We all know that smuggling is a function of economic factors and trade policies.
“Total border closure may not solve all the problems. The border closure, lest we forget, affects legitimate businesses especially of Nigerians involved in import and export business. I also believe Nigeria is not ready for trade in Africa after signing a treaty recently on trade liberalisation in Africa. Since the closure, Cadbury, Unilever, Nestle and the others are counting difficulties and harsh trading environment.
“Our immediate neighbouring countries are not complaining; Abuja has said they understand and are cooperating. Last week I was at Cote d’Ivoire for a business meeting. The moment some of us Nigerians attempted to make contributions, those Francophone people started shouting and making trouble. They are becoming hostile all because of the closure of our land borders.
“Trade survives on loans, and it is not only Nigerians that are trapped in this unfortunate situation. Government has said this action has security implication, and we cannot but support government to do what is right. As a businessman leading a group, my appeal is that government should seek other proactive method to achieve border policing.”
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