By Gilbert Ekugbe
“Nigeria manufacturing sector is facing stiff competition due to bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), Common External Tariff (CET), impending Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and other World Trade Organization (WTO) trade policies that are transforming the world economy into a vast free-trading zone.”
The Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) Dr.Hussaini Ibrahim, sounded this warning during a business roundtable on critical issues on raw materials sourcing for manufacturing industries in Nigeria.
Ibrahim who was represented by the Director Technology Development, RMRDC, Dr. Mohammed Buga, noted that where raw materials or their local substitutes are unavailable locally, the government through the Tariff Review Board of the Federal Ministry of Finance on the recommendations of the Tariff Technical Committee, (TTC) applies the relevant tariffs for the importation of such raw materials or inputs.
He added that there is a need for investment in research and development to identify local substitutes or alternative raw materials in manufacturing in Nigeria, pointing out that research and development in Nigeria in tertiary educational institutions and government-owned research institutes are not up to the required level.
Also speaking at the event, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) called for a review of the Common External Tariff (CET) before its final take-off in 2019/2020.
The Chairman, Corporate Affairs and Strategic Planning Committee, MAN, Mr John Aluya, said: “CET, as structured, to us, is not in the interest of Nigeria. Our position is based on the fact that Nigeria’s industrial capacity is above 60 percent when compared with that of other countries in the region.
“How then do we compare a situation whereby countries of the region are allowed 3 percent or 117 tariff lines to deviate from a total of 5889 tariff lines for the national interest as being adequate for a country like Nigeria? This by all international trade negotiation standards is not appropriate for Nigeria considering its industrial capacity.”
He, therefore, called for a review of the current position and the need for renegotiation of the CET, saying that if not reviewed, Nigeria’s industrial potentials and development might be sacrificed on the altar of uncoordinated regional integration.