Monday, 22 February 2016

Nigeria gets anti-dumping relief from World Trade Organization — Minister

Dead local industries may come to life again, as the Federal Government has secured some measures from the World Trade Organization to combat dumping. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI), Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah disclosed to newsmen in Lagos that efforts are underway to revitalize local industries and discourage dumping, which has killed local production. 

His words: “One of my first official outings as minister was to represent Nigeria at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya; and discuss Nigeria’s place in the global multilateral trading system. One of the areas we addressed is dumping and I am happy that we got some relief, anti-dumping relief that we are going to use to promote local industries. Also, on one of our recent trips to the United Arab Emirates, I was privileged to sign, on behalf of Nigeria, an important bilateral agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection.” 

Influx of finished goods from Europe and Asian countries into the Nigerian market is killing the nation’s local industries and hampering its bid for industrialisation. Investigations by Financial Vanguard revealed that in the last four years alone, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, destroyed substandard products worth N10 billion that found their way into the country. Top among these goods were cables, wires, tyres, tomato paste in tins and satchets; textile materials, among other household items and consumables. 

Fielding questions on how he would tackle the influx of substandard goods overwhelming SON and NAFDAC, the new Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI), Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah said that among the sectors mostly affected by dumping in the last several years is the cotton, garments and textile sector. The minister said: “We are in the era of globalisation as people like to call it, and what it means is that people are constantly trying to sell their goods, so we have a particular responsibility to ourselves to make sure that the goods that are coming here do not result to dumping. 

We are competing with the treasuries of the developed world where they are in effect subsidising goods that are coming into countries in the developing world and hampering industrialisation. In order to solve the problem, the Minister stated: “It is the entire ecosystem – it ranges from trade policies to ensure that there is no dumping of cotton and finished products. I know we have several government agencies that are involved in checkmating products coming into the country. SON is one of them. It is under our ministry and NAFDAC is one of them under the Ministry of Health. I think the important thing is to do it in a systematic way and in a way that leverages technology. If you don’t do it that way there is a risk; you will be overwhelmed. 

“Nigeria is a large country with a population of 170 million people and counting, so we must leverage technology and this is something that is being discussed and being implemented whether through the Nigeria Customs in terms of inspection, both the one that arrives or before goods are shipped. This is an area where we can do more and I will also say in the spirit of enabling environment we have to do it as service to stakeholders and not in a way that is adversarial. We would work hard at it.” According to him, another approach to discourage dumping is to consume what we produce locally. 

“We, Nigerians, have to be prepared to make some trade-offs and the most obvious one that will have the greatest impact is to consume what we produce – Made-in-Nigeria and that includes me. If we are willing to pay the price of consuming what we are producing it will get better with time, like it happened in other countries like Germany, Japan and others, they all went through the same cycle and am fully persuaded we will get the benefits in time. 

“Speaking for myself and the leadership of my ministry, I can assure you that we are prepared to make tough choices that are required, we will be prepared to make tough sacrifices that are required and frankly we will expect that by leading by example, we will be able to carry others along with us. The principle of delayed gratification is something that we must accept and it is something 
President Buhari has has been talking about and in the short term, we need to make some tough choices for a better tomorrow.” On policy inconsistencies, he said: “We do understand that it can be shocking when policies are not consistent. I think it is important to maintain consistency. You heard me say the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, is one we studied and we are going to implement it, we might have to clean up some areas where we have received useful inputs to clean up and that is what we are doing. “So, I think you will not find in this government policy reversals unless when it has to do with issues of transparency and governance and that is why government has been quite open in sharing with Nigerians some of the challenges we are facing but it is not around polices, frankly I think it is around implementation. The problem we have is not government policies but implementation of the policies in a responsible and sustainable way to get long- term results.”


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