Smuggling: Shut Nigeria’s border with Benin, group tells govt

By Ade Ogidan, Guardian on 27/02/2014

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WORRIED by the dwindling fortunes of member companies, the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers Federation (CANMPEF) has called on the Federal Government to shut its border with Republic of Benin, as a strategic measure to check smuggling – induced de-industrialisaiton of Nigeria.

 The body forwarded this “Save-Our-Soul” request to President Goodluck Jonathan after unfair competition from smuggled goods had forced 53 companies in CANMPEF to shut down, with job losses of over 270,000 recorded to the unsavoury saga.

  Indeed, CANMPEF president, Devakumar Edwin, in a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, described the spate of smuggling along the nation’s border with Republic of Benin as “alarming and worrisome”, saying it appeared as if the neighbouring country’s government itself has been promoting the unfair and illegal trading operations.

  Edwin also pointed out that observed anti-Nigeria disposition of some neighbouring countries have been putting local manufacturers ill-at-ease, with provisions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty being fragrantly abused.

  He explained: “With provisions of ECOWAS treaty, cross-border trading activities are supposed to be promoted along the sub-regional corridor.  But while goods from member states flow into the country with relative ease, Nigerian exporters find it difficult to penetrate the markets of these other West African countries, through imposition of high taxes and other fiscal measures against Nigerian goods.

  “Consequently, while goods from these other countries, especially from Republic of Benin penetrate the Nigerian market with less hazzles, our own goods are stuck in the country and subjected to unfair competition from these imported goods.

  “At the same time, local manufacturers are being pushed into extinction by the resultant unfair competition which their products are being made to face in the local market”.

  Edwin stressed that the situation has now reached a level where it has become imperative to shut the border with Republic of Benin for some period, to enthrone sanity in the movement of goods between the two countries.

  He pointed out that the border shutdown option was once pursued by the Federal Government during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying the same conditions that prompted the action “are now very much with us”.

  According to him, jobs in the nation’s manufacturing sector are being threatened on daily basis through the activities of “state sponsored” smugglers, with local producers now at great disadvantage at the nation’s market.

  The CANMPEF boss listed endangered locally made products to include pharmaceuticals, paints, textiles, and toiletries, among others.

  “Already, the nation’s tyre producing companies have relocated to other economies due to influx of the product from other countries.

  “Even in the agricultural sector, large scale production of rice is being impaired through unwholesome and unbridled smuggling of the commodity into the market.

  “While the Federal Government has been trying to fix other challenges to production like infrastructure, we cannot afford to add the burden of smuggling to the legion of problems we have in this country.

  “It is therefore most imperative to shut down the border with the Republic of Benin forthwith to bring about the strategic review of the situation at border posts and thereby sanitise the trade relations with the neighbouring country”, he added.

 

Posted on March, 1 2014

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