Members of the organised private sector (OPS) are disturbed over a report that members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have started rejecting Made-in-Nigeria goods, in retaliation against the ongoing border closure.
In many fora, private sector groups comprising Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), National Association of Small Industries (NASI), Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) and others have made their positions known to the Federal Government on the closure of the country’s borders.
According to them, no matter the gains assumed from the decision, it remains counter-productive to the economy despite the vision by the Federal Government to promote consumption. It is on record that trade among the ECOWAS countries has been in existence since the formation of the regional body in 1973, and it has brought economic fortunes to member-states, with different trade treaties meant to foster liberalisation.
However, following poor implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), most of the West African countries do not comply with the ECOWAS protocols. Besides, over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the West African sub-region is by road. This implies that the border closure has severely affected distribution of goods within the sub-region, culminating in friction among member states.
There is no doubt that the closure of Nigerian land border for a while now has come with benefits and costs; upsides and downsides.
In fact, reports so far show a drastic reduction in smuggling of rice, poultry products and sugar. The smuggling of petroleum products out of the country to neighbouring countries has also declined considerably. With this in place, the private sector appreciated these outcomes.However, it is also important to reckon with the costs to local investors as they have suffered untold losses as a result of the closure.