By EricJames Ochigbo
A trade expert, Prof. Ken Ife, has decried the high volume of trade malpractices across land borders in the country.
Speaking at a webinar on Thursday, Ife said that there had been substantial violation of trade rules across land borders, adding that these necessitated the closure.
He told traders to ” respect quality assurance systems that are necessary to protect the integrity of what you are importing and stop dumping goods that are injurious to our country.”
Ife also warned against ferrying of drugs and arms in containers, adding that trade is needed to improve competitiveness.
“There is no gain in protracted closure of borders,” he said.
Ife said that to tackle the high rate of inflation in the country, borders must be opened to allow free flow of trade items.
Other stakeholders at the webinar called for the immediate opening of land borders to boost economic activities in the country.
The stakeholders said that the closure had negative effect on revenue generation and the ease of doing business policy.
The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, Dr Ben Ukaoha, said that the negative effect of the border closure had been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appeal to government to reopen the land borders to every actor for genuine operations that would boost wealth creation and reduce poverty, especially in view of the fact that COVID-19 has drastically depleted revenue needed for sustainable development projects.
“This is one certain way of reducing the potency of smugglers and criminals, and their capacity to become more deadly and ingenious.
“Such reopening would also increase the nation’s purse at such a precarious situation, reduce our prevailing dominant borrowing of resources and assist in lifting the nation from economic recession,” he said.
Ukaoha also said government should lead efforts in concluding the tripartite arrangement with Benin Republic and Niger Republic by implementing the envisaged road map.
This, he said, included the ‘non-negotiability’ of destruction of warehouses on borders/corridor buffer zones.
The acting Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr Chuma Oruche, said that closure of borders
had hindered legitimate businesses from either bringing in raw materials for production or exporting finished products.
Oruche, who called for opening of the borders, however, said measures should be put in place to curtail trade malpractices.
Ms Mercy Ogwu, Assistant Director, Consumer Education, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), urged traders to ensure that their goods are traceable to the producer.
She also advised them to remove “toxic goods” from the market, saying protection of consumers was more paramount than profit.
The Director, Department of Trade, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mr Alliyu Abubakar, commended the organisers of the webinar for the initiative.
The director hinged the border closer on insecurity and trade malpractices by actors in the industry.
Abubakar said it was time for government to look into the concerns raised noting that this would have positive impact on local businesses and ECOWAS trade agreements.
He said that the recommendations of the stakeholders would be presented to the government for necessary action. (NAN)