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Imports from other West African nations drop by N127bn

Imports from other West African nations drop by N127bnThe value of goods imported by Nigeria from other West African nations, especially members of the Economic Community of West African States, fell by N127bn between the second and third quarter of 2019.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the value of Nigeria’s import trade with ECOWAS in the second quarter was N146.1bn.

However, by the third quarter, the amount reduced drastically to N19.1bn due in part to the border closure that came into effect on August 28.

In terms of exports, the country seemed to have fared better during the period under review.

Nigeria’s export trade with ECOWAS countries in the first quarter of 2019 was valued at N300.6bn, representing 32.8 per cent of the total exports to African countries.

In the second quarter, value of export trade was N200.3bn.

The total value of the exports to West African countries rose to N1.14tn in the third quarter, representing 21.56 per cent of total exports to African countries.

The high value of exports in the quarter under review was attributable to exports of cable sheaths of iron and submersible drilling platforms to Ghana.

An analysis of exports by country of destination showed that Nigeria exported N908.6bn worth of goods to Ghana, representing 17.18 per cent of total exports.

The value of total exports for the third quarter stood at N5.3tn, indicating an increase of 15.02 per cent  against the level recorded in Q2, 2019 and 8.97 per cent  when compared with its value in Q3, 2018, further analysis of the data showed.

The crude oil component of export amounted to N3.7tn or 70.84 per cent of the total exports while non-crude oil export grew significantly and was valued at N1.5tn or 29.13 per cent.

The continued drop in imports from the ECOWAS sub-region has been attributable to the border closure and it is projected to fall further.

While presenting the 2019 economic review and outlook for 2020, the Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the continued protectionist policy of the government would likely limit growth next year.

He added that competition between foreign and local producers would fade on continued border closure.

Analysts for Quartz, a platform for African news and analysis, Landry Signe and Colette Van der Ven, said Nigeria’s border closure was inconsistent with its 44-year long commitment to the ECOWAS, which Nigeria spearheaded in 1975.

They added that by responding to a trade problem through unilateral border closure, Nigeria had also defied the provisions of the African Continental free Trade Area agreement to which it signed only a few months ago.

However, a manufacturer and the Managing Director of Coleman Wires and Cables Limited, Mr George Onofowokan, said the border closure had its advantages, especially for local manufacturers.

He said although some manufacturers took their goods across the border to other African countries, the level of smuggling of locally manufactured goods had equally reduced.

“An importer who usually brings cables through the border called us recently to buy cables from us. What this means is that he has now found it cheaper to buy locally than to import as his only import route will be through the sea where he will be required to pay the full duty,” he said.

Onofowokan noted that the imports through the border opened an avenue for a lot of infractions and under-declaration of goods, a situation not possible when importing through the sea.

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