This month make it a year precisely when Federal Government shut down the country’s land borders with its neighbouring countries, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) which comprises, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), NACCIMA, LCCI, NECA. has chided government for not considering the implications, which has led to huge revenue loss on the part of investors.
The OPS is concerned that with the looks of things now, the Federal Government has jettisoned plans to reopen the borders soon. It would be recalled that in August 2019, the Federal Government pronounced partial land borders closure with its neigbouring countries for exports and imports as part of policy to consume goods produced locally and to also contain smuggling.
The stakeholders who spoke to The Skybirdnewsgroup in Lagos, disclosed that local manufacturers were still sweating it out and yet to get over the negative impacts of the border closure policy on their investments with revenue losses surpassing N1 trillion mark.
According to them, the indefinite border closure orchestrated by the Federal Government has resulted to disruption in trading between Nigeria and other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries with severe economic impacts as volume of trade within ECOWAS has declined from 12 per cent to seven per cent.
The President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Toki Mabogunje, explained that the border closure had also severely affected the shipment of Nigerian manufactured goods to the ECOWAS countries as Nigerian goods are still facing rejections in neighbouring countries due to acrimony over Federal Government’s refusal to reopen the borders.
According to Mabogunje, “Closure of the land borders has enormous implications for cross border economic activities around the country.
“The indications are now that the closure is indefinite. While we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem.” She insisted that it was unacceptable for the Federal Government to shutdown the whole borders in the name of smuggling of agric produce and ammunitions at the detriment of trade promotion and facilitation along the ECOWAS trade corridor for one year now without reviewing the adverse effects on businesses and the country’s economy in general.
She noted that there was no country in the world where smuggling of products does not take place but that it is the responsibility of government to control smuggling like other countries are doing without shutting down the borders in a bid to encourage trading among states.
The border closure has sent danger signals to other ECOWAS countries in the region as it is taking more than expected. said: Mabogunje, “What we are saying is to find a way of encouraging trade among ourselves in sub-Sahara Africa. We are saying that trade among ECOWAS countries is very low, it’s just 11 per cent or 12 per cent in terms of volume in the region and the border closure has brought it to seven per cent.
On the side of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Acting Director-General of MAN, Paul Oruche, said Nigeria need to increase trade volume among Africa countries rather than discouraging it. “This border closure will hinder us to trade among ourselves; that is the submission of my organisation.”
Speaking on the survey carried out by MAN on the closure, the MAN boss said: “We did a survey of our members sector by sector. “Food, beverages and tobacco had negative side that they encountered in the export of their products to ECOWAS countries.
“It has been a huge challenge to them and many of them are scaling down jobs, reducing costs because the aspect of the export market is no longer feasible, attractive and profitable,” he added.
On her part, the National President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Chairman, OPS, Hajiya SaratuIiya Aliyu said that these were surely not the best of times for the Nigerian economy and businesses as the effects of COVID- 19 disruptions had been very profound on businesses and the economy in general.
She explained that the short term outlook of the key economic indicators was not looking bright; but that, however, the chamber was hopeful that “we would turn the corner sooner than later.”
“As we all know, the major trigger of the economic downturn was the COVID-19 induced slump in oil price, resulting in the plunge of both revenue and foreign exchange earnings. “Besides, there were serious disruptions in the supply chain with consequential dislocations to many production processes.
“The liquidity crisis in the foreign market has reached a scary level reflecting in acute foreign exchange scarcity, sharp depreciation in the exchange rate, widening parallel market premium and weakening investor confidence. “However, we believe that the Nigerian economy has some strong fundamentals. Our natural resources endowments are vast, the domestic market is large, and our people are resourceful and enterprising. What is missing are the enablers,” she added.
She said that times like this offer tremendous opportunities for innovation, creativity, export growth and import substitution, adding that these are the silver linings in the current economic downturn.