03 Nov Trade policy: FG vows to protect emerging industries
The federal government has vowed to deploy fiscal policies that will protect the nation’s industries and encourage investments in critical sectors of the economy.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made the commitment in Abuja at the opening session of 4th Meeting of the ECOWAS Finance Ministers on the Consolidation of ECOWAS Customs Union held yesterday at the ECOWAS Commission Headquarters in Abuja.
The Finance Minister insisted that ”Nigeria will continue to deploy fiscal policies to support or protect emerging industries, encourage investment in critical sectors and promote local production.”
Some of the measures already taken she said include “an Import Adjustment Tax (IAT) list which involves additional taxes on 177 tariff lines of the CET 2015-2019; a national list consisting of items whose import duty rates have been reviewed downwards to encourage rapid development in strategic sectors of the economy and an import prohibition list (Trade) applicable only to certain goods originating from Third Countries.”
She said this ”is with a view to achieving the effective implementation of the country’s Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) and the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) within the transitional period of five years of implementation of the Common External Tariff (CET) (2015-2019).”
She reminded the ECOWAS gathering that this is without prejudice to the spirit of regional integration and free trade protocols as Nigeria has been in the forefront of supported trade policies.
According to her, “like every developing economy, Nigeria’s vision to industrialize is very strong. Accordingly, we believe ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) should be designed to promote regional industrialization in a manner that on the long term reduces dependence on imports. We will continue to work within ECOWAS to achieve these laudable objectives.”
Nigeria, she said “believes fervently that ECOWAS regional policies such as the CET, the Customs Union and other fiscal policies should aim seriously at achieving economic growth and industrialization for member states, while reducing import dependency.”
According to Mrs. Ahmed “the economies of scale that result from successful integration should serve as catalysts for economic development of the region. Nigeria, therefore, believes West Africa, while desiring integration into the global economy, should diversify its economy through manufacturing, processing of primary products and other forms of economic modernization.”
She reiterated that “Nigeria undoubtedly supports a regional common tariff and a customs union for ECOWAS as major steps towards the achievement of the objective for which the ECOWAS itself was established.”
Ahmed assured ECOWAS of “Nigeria’s unflinching commitment to the success of the ECOWAS project, particularly in the areas of trade liberalization and economic integration. Nigeria’s current economic policies, in several aspects, seek to identify with, and actively participate in the effort to achieve regional economic development through cooperation. In this regard, Nigeria effectively commenced the implementation of the ECOWAS CET in April 2015, with additional measures under the ECOWAS approved Supplementary Protection.”
The minister also used the occasion to advocate for more controls on tobacco in the subregion to minimise the health hazards associated with tobacco.
“In particular, we hold the belief that the establishment of a Track and Trace System for Manufactured and imported Tobacco Products represents ECOWAS’ genuine desire to enthrone best practices in tobacco taxation and control the public health hazards of these products,” she said.