Non-tariff barriers: Nigeria’s $47.3bn ECOWAS’ trade threatened

Taiwo Hassan A key member of the organised private sector in Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), has disclosed that the inability of the Federal Government and private sector operators to tackle the Non-Tariffs Barriers (NTBs) in ECOWAS is threatening Nigeria’s $47.3 billion regional trade in ECOWAS.


President of NANTS, Dr. Ken Ukaoha, made this revelation at the fourth Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) in Lagos, saying that the illicit gang up by some ECOWAS countries over introduction of illicit tariff or NTBs on Nigeriabound cargoes and containers while transiting through these countries was already weakening Nigeria’s strength in the ECOWAS region in terms of its trade volume and share control


in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Ukaoha, who was the guest speaker at the occasion, while delivering a speech titled: “The Implication of Impository and Retaliatory Tariffs and Non- Tariffs Barriers on Trade in ECOWAS Sub-Region,” said Nigeria currently controlled $47.3 billion out of the $58.4 billion region’s trade surplus, with only Cote D’ Ivoire ($3.4 billion) when all other countries in the region have a deficit in trade balance.


In addition, Ukaoha noted that total trade of the region had averaged $208.1 billion. Also, he said export projection in the region is approximately $137.3 billion, while imports total about $80.4 billion.


The NANTS president disclosed that the main active countries in ECOWAS subregion in terms of trade were Nigeria, which alone accounts for approximately 76 per cent of trade, followed by Ghana (9.2 per cent ) and Cote D’ Ivoire (8.64 per cent).


He, however, pointed out that, currently, some ECOWAS countries were beginning to frustrate Nigeria’s economic interests in the sub-region with specific mention of Ghana and Benin Republic via introduction of illicit tariffs  as barriers to trade in order to check Nigeria’s growing strength, which is not in tandem with the ETLS (ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme).

For instance, Ukaoha pointed out that the recent stalemate between Nigeria and Benin Republic, whereby Republic of Benin imposed new import duty of CFA9 million (N6.5 million) per transit truck on Nigeria-bound cargoes transiting through the country, was one of the NTB plans to checkmate Nigeria’s control of large volume of trade in the sub region.


According to him, the situation resulted to Nigerian manufacturers suffering huge losses as their cargoes remained within the Benin Republic borders for about 46 days, while those with deep pockets have had to pay more to transit the goods via the sea to Republic of Benin.


The industrialist noted that it was a wake up call for the Nigerian government, private sector operators, local manufacturers, exporters and importers of goods.


He emphasised that if Nigeria as the largest economy in the ECOWAS sub-region does not stand up for its right as the biggest trade dominance, these smaller countries would pose more threats to its economic survival in the region and further frustrating the ETLS.


Oil resources, iron, bauxite, manganese, gold etc are for the extractive commodities, while cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber, fruits and vegetables and other products are marketed in the agricultural space

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