President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that Nigeria lacks the capacity to stop dumping of goods in the country as well as in other African nations.
The President stated this while receiving the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) led by its president, Engr. Mansur Ahmed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari said he is ready to receive the report of a committee set up to assess the potential costs and impact of signing the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) for Nigeria.
He said Nigeria will be guided by national interest in taking any decision on the agreement establishing the AfCFTA.
According to the President, “I don’t think Nigeria has the capacity to effectively supervise and to ensure that our colleagues in AU don’t allow their countries to be used to dump goods on us to the detriment of our young industries and our capacity to utilize foreign exchange for imported goods.”
The President also promised to look into the presentation by MAN highlighting issues of concern to the manufacturing sector, namely the AfCFTA, Export Expansion Grant and other incentives, challenges with the 2019 fiscal policy measures, recent increase in NAFDAC charges, the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) (Amendment) Act, 2019, among others.
He recalled that the Presidential Steering Committee on the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Committee was inaugurated on October 22, 2018, with the mandate to assess the extent to which Nigeria was ready to join the agreement, and what the impact of doing so would be.
The committee was initially given 12 weeks to conclude its assignment, after holding wide consultations with industry groups and stakeholders, including the MAN.
Speaking further, Buhari told MAN that the AfCFTA is on the agenda for the upcoming AU Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic, in July.
“I assure you that I know the enormity of our problems in terms of population growth rate and teeming young people. We need to move very fast and the government will try and encourage you as very much as possible so that the problem of unemployment and the provision of other services relative to our population and state of development can be tolerated,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the MAN president outlined some credible policies that have driven the economy forward in the first term of President Buhari.
Commending the Buhari administration for consistent efforts to sustain the growth trajectory anchored on improving the business environment, Mansur recognised government’s efforts at improving the Ease of Doing Business Project, fight against corruption, focus on poverty reduction, job creation and inclusive growth as well as the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
He, however, noted that despite the significant progress recorded in the last four years, “it is clear that our economy is still fragile.”
“With the GDP at 2.0 per cent and below the population growth rate, the clouds are still threatening and the task of driving the economy upwards is still enormous,” he added.
Speaking to State House Correspondents, Chairman of MAN, Kwara/Kogi chapter, Dr. Kamorudeen Yusuf, said the ongoing KAM Integrated Steel located at Jimba-Oja, Kwara State, when completed, would activate Federal Government’s backward integration policy in steel industry.
According to him, “It will, no doubt, enhance foreign exchange savings of about $200 million annually, thereby contributing immensely to the nation’s economy.”