FG bans  importation of refined sugar through free trade zones

Chinazor Megbolu

The Federal Government has announced the prohibition of the importation of refined sugar and its derivatives from the nation’s free trade zones (FTZs).

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, issued the ban so as to protect national interest and achieve the goals of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), which is a policy road map for sugar production.
The prohibition was contained in a letter by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to one of the terminal operators at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), Apapa, Lagos.
The letter, dated April 8, was signed by Buba Jubril on behalf of the port manager, Lagos Ports Complex.
According to the letter; “it has recently come to our notice that due to the recent location of a sugar refinery in a free trade zone, refined sugar is being imported into the Nigerian Customs territory under the concession granted to enterprises in the free trade zones to export 100 percent of their output to the Nigerian Customs territory, and this is real potential threat to the goals of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP).
“The Nigeria sugar industry is governed by the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP). The NSMP provides a framework for motivating investment in the local production of refined sugar by securing the Nigerian sugar market for investors in the backward integration program (BIP).
“Your terminal is hereby informed by this letter that, in order to protect our national interest and ensure the returns in the federal government’s investment in the NSMP are realised, and in line with extant laws and regulations of the federal government of Nigeria, importation of refined sugar and all other sugar derivatives from the free trade zones into the Nigerian Customs territory are here prohibited by the honourable minister, ministry of industry, trade and investment.
“In view of the above, your terminals are by this letter directed to ensure strict compliance with this directive. Please accept as always the assurances of our esteemed regards”.
The prohibition was as a result of  a dispute among Dangote Industries Limited, BUA Group, and Flour Mills of Nigeria.
In a joint letter by Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria and sent to the Minister, Dangote  claimed that BUA’s sugar refinery poses a threat to the local sugar industry and undermines the Nigerian sugar master plan (NSMP).
Meanwhile, BUA responded by saying that Dangote and the Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Mr. John Coumantaros are calling to question the “authority of the President’s power and the diligence of the trade ministry.

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