Industrialists decry govt’s unrestrained appetite for trade agreements

Nigerias-economy18 October 2013, Lagos – SOME manufacturers have cautioned the Federal Government over the possible negative impact its unrestrained appetite to enter into trade agreements might have on industries in Nigeria.

Rev. Isaac Ade Agoye, out-going Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Ikeja Branch, issued the warning on behalf of its members at the 46th Annual General Meeting of the association in Lagos.

He charged the Federal Government to make concerted effort to check the influx of smuggled and imported sub-standard products, saying that they are anti-manufacturing.

“Government must also have a re-think on the various trade agreements she is engaging, especially the Nigeria and the European Union to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) agreement. “In order to guarantee the continued survival and profitability of our businesses, we expect the Federal government to provide the requisite infrastructure support, especially power (energy), refrain from policy inconsistencies and take practical steps to stop high incidence of unfair competition from imported of smuggled sub-standard goods and counterfeits.

“While the influx of sub-standard and smuggled goods is on the rise, sandwiched between these are the government regulatory agencies with multiple visits and duplication of duties cum fees/levies/taxes and most often than not, unimaginable fine,” he said.

Consequently, he called for fusion of these government agencies with over-lapping functions, saying that it would save manufacturers cost and man-hour-loss.

Lamenting the sorry state of the manufacturing sector in Nigeria, he said, “The current state of the manufacturing sector has been occasioned principally by inefficient public sector investments and policy inconsistencies. This is compounded by dearth of skilled manpower and human brain drain unregulated importation of goods produced by local industries, lopsided tariff regimes, inadequate access to finance and heavy capital flight. Others are weak consumer demand for local products and smuggling, waning small and medium scale industrial concerns and decay in infrastructural facilities.”

He stated that the challenges have resulted in abysmal capacity utilisation and dismal performance of the manufacturing sector, high rate of factory closures, as well as low contribution to GDP by manufacturing sector.

He appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Babatuinde Fashola to set aside one special day for interaction with manufacturers in the state, saying that most of the town hall meetings and other stakeholders’ fora organised by the government is not usually well structured to accommodate chief executives of manufacturing concerns in Lagos.

He also appealed to the state government to publish the state’s policy on industrialisation, investment opportunities and available incentives for budding entrepreneurs and also put in place a strategic policy framework that will stimulate the patronage of made-in-Nigeria products for government functions, projects and programmes.
*Nkiruka Nnorom, Vanguard

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