<<< By Chris Agabi >>>
The Federal Government has begun the process of retooling Nigeria’s current trade policy into a policy that will emphasize the export of finished products rather than the current tradition of exporting raw materials.
In this regard, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has developed a new trade policy that will be submitted to the Federal Executive Council soon.
The Minister of State in the Ministry, Chief Dr Samuel Ortom disclosed this in Lagos while speaking at an interactive session with the Tiv community.
He said the new trade regime was critical on account of its capacity to generate jobs and add real value to the Nigerian economy.
He said it would also complement some recent policies that have seen the once comatose industrial sector coming back to life.
“There are several other policies we are working on. For instance, we are trying to retool our trade policy. We’ve developed a new one and will be submitting it to the Federal Executive Council soon. We believe it will be adopted and implemented,” he said.
According to him, the thrust of the policy will see Nigeria begin to process her raw materials locally into finished products so she can begin to trade in finished materials far removed from the present culture of trading in raw materials.
“Through this new trade policy, we hope to provide more jobs for Nigerians because the more we keep exporting raw materials, we will keep exporting our jobs to other economies” he noted.
Recall the FG’s backward integration in the cement sector saw Nigeria leapfrog from two million metric tones capacity annually to the current over 39 million installed capacity which is seeing Nigeria exporting cement.
“So the focus of government is to begin to process our raw materials locally, so we can create jobs and drive innovations. This means, going forward, more industries down the value chains of the raw materials will begin to spring up” across the country he said.
Chief Ortom also said Nigeria’s economy is on the growth trajectory just as the new automotive policy is paying off handsomely.
“Based on the policies we’ve introduced, dead and comatose industries are reviving again. For instance, the automobile assembly plants are coming alive again. Nissan is now assembling vehicles in Nigeria again, Hyundai is also assembling its cars here. Peugeot was going down but it’s back now and doing well,” he explained adding that Nigeria was spending over N500 billion annually importing used cars but that will be reduced when new cars are assembled in Nigeria.
“As we speak, at least 10 automobile companies have indicated interest to open assembly plants in Nigeria. Toyota and General Motors are part of it. Something we never thought would happen anytime soon. But we are achieving this because of sound policies,” he said.
According to him, the new policy, which is aimed at promoting investments in affordable made-in-Nigeria cars, will reduce the huge import bills and attract the interest of global auto giants.
The minister also said Nigeria has put up a machinery that will see Nigeria be self sufficient in sugar.
“So at the ministry, we are committed to reviving our industries so we can reduce importation. The sugar sector has witnessed about $3 billion investment through the efforts of the federal government,” he stressed.
He also said with the recent policies Nigeria introduced, at least $8 billion of FDI investments come into Nigeria annually and have been rising in the past three years and still counting.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan was pleased with the performance of the ministry under him and the senior minister, Dr. Olusegun Aganga.