Chinazor Megbolu/ Segun Oladipupo |
The Federal Government has stalled the issuance of licenses of free trade zones operations in Nigeria.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo disclosed the stoppage during the inauguration of a committee set up for the review of the performance of free trade zones. He also hinted that applications for free trade zones would no longer be treated until the completion of the panel’s engagement.
Adebayo explained that free trade zones are a special economic zone in a geographical area, where goods may be stored, manufactured, handled, or reconfigured and re-exported under certain customs regulations and are generally not subject to customs duties.
“It is important to note that free trade zones in most developed countries have contributed successfully to their industrialisation process.
“The model was adopted by the Asian Tigers and today, most countries, including African countries, are beginning to key into the idea.
“Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), has begun delivery of world-class free trade zones across the country,” Adebayo said.
He further pointed out that only 12 of the 33 licensed free trade zones operators in the country were operational on account of poor implementation.
According to him; “currently the performance of free trade zones licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the government.
“Free trade zones are key to the nation’s push towards industrialisation and will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s trade and economic fortunes which is greatly required given the current economic challenges. Globally, FTZs account for 68 million jobs and generate $500 billion annually.
“The panel would offer a number of recommendations to inform government’s strategies based on a comprehensive evaluation of their operations”.
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