China Exim, Afrexim Pledge $1bn To Economic Zones

China Exim, Afrexim Pledge $1bn To Economic Zones

Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, on Thursday in Abuja said the Federal Government is pay attention to establishing six Special Economic Zones (SEZ) across the country.
Enelamah, who addressed a press conference to give a status report on the implementation of MITI’s objectives, said the Muhammadu Buhari administration negotiating 21st century Nigerian free trade agreements aimed at expanding market opportunities for Nigerian companies.
He stressed that besides the fund budgeted for the first development phase of the SEZs to be launched in 2017, partners like Afreximbank and EXIM bank of China have committed $1 billion to the project.
A statement by Constance Ikokwu, Strategic Communications Adviser to the Minister, said the ministry is currently running a feasibility study for the development of the SEZs and securing funding in the Nigerian budget.
The government, the statement added, is equally looking into the controversial ECOWAS Common External Tariff, just as the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), suspended in 2014 over alleged widespread abuse and accumulation of significant liability on the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate (NDCCs), is also billed to resume in 2017.
Enelamah said the Ministry is updating Nigeria’s trade policy priorities by working to correct imbalances in the country’s trade relationships and reversing negotiating failures.
One item being examined at the moment is the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) CET, a regional tariff structure for West Africa. It is the basis of which products are imported within the region and became effective in 2015 with a transitional period of implementation to 2020.
“The challenge for the Nigerian economy is that manufacturers and industrialists have taken a strong position that the negotiation that resulted in the CET did not take into account the sensititives of the Nigerian industrial and manufacturing sector,” the statement added.
The pre-existing sensitivities have now been compounded with the onset of the recession and other vulnerabilities, following which sakeholders strongly believe that the Nigerian economy would be damaged if the CET is implemented in 2020. They also agree that the situation would be compounded if Nigeria signs the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union.
This is why, the statement continued, producers, manufacturers, industrialists and others want negotiation of the CET  postponed and for the EPA not to be signed.
“The government is thus, seriously working on these concerns,” Ikokwu added, stressing that the administration intends to resume the EEG in 2017 because of its determination to expand the volume and value of Nigeria’s exports. The scheme will be included in the budget in order to manage the impact on government revenue and promote transparency.
The Minister was quoted as saying that approved liability on the scheme for unused certificates which are either in the custody of exporters or awaiting issuance in the Federal Ministry of Finance, will be settled after the conduct of an audit to verify the actual amount due.
MITI says it is working with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) to enhance investments and reverse the overall decline of FDI inflows. Key achievements include important Investment Promotion and Protection agreements signed with Singapore and UAE and Investment roadshows undertaken in China, Germany, Singapore, Turkey, UAE, UK, and US. Also investors such as GE, Nissan, Coca-cola among others, have continued to express interest to expand investment in Nigeria.