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FG to encourage free trade zones to boost development

By on March 26, 2011

THE Federal government will continue to encourage free Trade zones scheme as vehicle for developing industrial potential of the country and the utilisation of local contents as well as inducement of foreign direct investment (FDI).

This was disclosed by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye,  in a paper delivered at the 2011 edition of the National Council on Commerce and Industry (NCCI-04) which held at  Uyo.

Reviewing the progress in the commerce and industry sector, the minister stated that the free trade zones scheme had generated millions of employment, encouraged technology transfer and value addition, and has drastically reduced youth’s restiveness in the Niger Delta.

He explained that, in its quest for stability of the scheme, the ministry had streamlined the functional role of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) in line with the statutory provision of the authorities act with a view to delivering its mandate optimally.

Senator Kuye said that Nigeria was participating in the ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development round negotiation which was launched in 2001.  There has been a missed deadline on the conclusion of the development focused Doha meeting due to lack of consensus on some of the issues under negotiation such as subsidies and trade destorting domestic support to agriculture by the developed countries.

He said that Nigeria’s bilateral trade relations with other countries have been very cordial, especially with USA, EU and Asian countries.  In this regard, the  minister led the Nigerian delegation to the ninth Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, held in Washington DC and Akansa City USA from  August 2-6, 2010.

The forum was attended by participants (public and private) from 38 sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries and their United States counterpart.  Agriculture and agro-allied business remained the focus of the AGOA’s forum.  Nigeria, though a leading AGOA beneficiary country in terms of oil and energy related products, is yet to harness its full potentials in the non-oil export and thereby take full advantage of AGOA.

However, the ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders on AGOA, plans to reinvigorate the implementation process.  It, therefore, intends to organise the first Nigeria Entrepreneurs Summit in the third quarter of this year to develop the blueprint on how to stimulate growth in the real sector of the economy, especially on non-oil products.

The minister, therefore, enjoined each State Ministry of Commerce and Industry to set up an AGOA state commitee made up of relevant government agencies and private sector representatives for wider and effective mobilisation of stakeholders.  They are expected to render annual report of their activities to the ministry.

The Federal Government, in its efforts to eliminate trade barriers, constituted a 21-man task force on trade facilitation.  The Task force was inaugurated on  May 28, 2010. Members were drawn from ministries, agencies and organised private sector (OPS).  During its on the spot assessment of the Apapa and Tincan island Seaports, Seme border and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, the task force found out that the available facilities and infrastructure were grossly inadequate and obsolete.

Source : Tribune