Industry experts and stakeholder have urged the federal government to address the challenges limiting the effectiveness of Free Trade Zones in the country, particularly infrastructural deficit.
The stakeholders made the call at a one day sensitization awareness workshop on the promotion and development of FTZs across Nigeria held in Abuja.
The meeting which was declared open by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwazo, mni, NPOM, drew stakeholders from across various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), including: Officials of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Officials of NEPZA, Representatives of NEPC, NEXIM, NIPC, MAN, NACCIMA, Bank, Nigeria Customs Services, Commodity Associations and Entrepreneurs amongst others.
The event was attended by 60 participants and appreciated Goodwill messages from the Executive Director NEPC, Executive Secretary NIPC and the Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service, presented by their representatives. The Keynote Address was delivered by the Permanent Secretary, Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Nasir Sani- Gwarzo, mni, NPOM, ably represented by the Director, Commodities and Export Department, Suleman Adebayo Audu.
The workshop was titled, “Creating Awareness on the activities of the Free Zones in order to stimulate investment in the sub-sector”
Part of the observations made by the participants was that numerous challenges were hindering the effective development of the FTZs in the country such as “lack of synergy between Government Agencies, ignorance of the activities of these regulatory Agencies by stakeholders and inadequate infrastructural facilities amongst others”, a communiqué issued at the end of the programme revealed.
They therefore advised the government to work towards addressing these issues.
The communiqué read, “Government should address the challenges that are hindering the effective development of the Free Trade Zones by ensuring synergy between Government Agencies, sustained sensitization on the benefits of investing in the Free Trade Zone as well as the provision of adequate industrial infrastructure in the Zones.
The participants also observed that there was the need to review the operations and regulation of the FTZs to achieve its objectives and a need for collaboration among key stakeholders to ensure the success of the zones in the country.
Among other things, the workshop recommended that the government should work with the private sector to develop strategies that would increase investor interest in the zones, and boost foreign exchange earnings.
“Government should collaborate with the private sector to develop new strategies that would stimulate increased and sustained interest in the Free Trade Zones.
The workshop also recognized that well-developed Free Trade Zones will improve Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and therefore called on government and the key stakeholders to support investment in the Free Zones to grow our economy,” the communiqué stated.
The workshop further advised the government to implement strict regulations on the economic activities in FTZs to ensure that the products from the FTZs are not smuggled into the Customs area and cause injury to the domestic firms.