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AfCFTA: MAN urges FG to invest in technology for efficiencies

With Nigeria’s border reopening and commencement of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged the Federal Government to invest in new technology that will improve accountability and transparency and enhance efficiency in the operations of customs services and other agencies of government to boost seamless trade facilitation.

President of MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, made this known to New Telegraph in Lagos during a chat, saying that protection of the country’s local manufacturing sector investment should be a priority of government and its agencies in AfCFTA as Nigeria targets to shore up her revenue profile. Ahmed noted that the challenge occasioned by the land border closure was detrimental to many manufacturers, and not just a handful. Hence, rather than being selective in the approval for operation, the association strongly recommends that in the interest of the growth and development of the nation’s economy, all manufacturers should be granted access of operation via the land borders.

The MAN president stated that in view of tackling the initial problem hinted by government on the shutting of the land borders, MAN is advocating for a holistic approach that will address the root cause of the problem and provide mutually reinforcing solutions rather than a border closure, which is not a sustainable solution to the challenge of trade distortions and abuse of economic protocols by neighboring countries in the region.

According to him, with the border reopening and Af- CFTA, MAN wants government to establish joint border patrols with neighboring countries involving police, customs, immigration, navy and state security services of the countries.

In the same vein, the MAN boss advocated for strengthening the coordination among the regulatory agencies to ensure that they share trade information and timely review trade policies. Also, he recommended diplomatically engaging the governments of Niger and Benin Republic on trade data sharing and ensuring that containers in transit to Nigeria are not offloaded into trucks and smuggled into the country.

In addition, he suggested the establishment of a clear and enforceable legal and regulatory framework with stiffer penalties to deter potential offenders. Speaking further on why government agencies must tighten the loose ends around the border corridors, the MAN chieftain said: “Manufacturers in the country have continued to lose and are still losing market share on daily basis in the West African corridor as export of manufacturers products have now become overly less competitive.

“For instance, major players in the beverages; polypropylene (PP) bags, tobacco, cement, toiletries and cosmetics industries are losing markets they had worked very hard to secure in the West and Central African region. This is a position that Nigeria has hoped to leverage on to secure a strong position in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which kicked-off in January 2021.”

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