The Federal Government of Nigeria has suspended the issuance of licences for the operation of free trade zones (FTZs) across the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo revealed the development during the inauguration of the panel set up to evaluate the performance of Free Trade Zones; which was held on Monday.
The FTZs which were set up to promote economic activities within the country by storing, handling, manufacturing, or reconfiguring and re-exporting goods under specific customs regulation would suspend processing of licenses subject to the evaluation panel being set up.
Spokesperson of the Minister – Ifedayo Sayo, also reiterated the suspension of license processing till the panel completes its task and added that the country is yet to make grounds through the FTZs due to poor implementation.
“It is important to note that FTZs 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 FTZs across the country.
“However, due to poor implementation, we have yet to take delivery of the dynamic potentials of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth.”
According to the Minister, the Nation currently has 12 operational FTZs out of 33 licensed operators. He also called for an improvement of operation in all Free Trade Zones.
“Currently the performance of FTZs licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the government,” Adebayo said.
“FTZs 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 USD 500 billion annually.
“The sector can be extremely lucrative if executed efficiently and we must aim to improve the operation of our zones,” he stated.
He stated that the panel would ensure a set of recommendations are provided to harness government strategy on FTZs through thorough assessment of the current operations of these Free Trade Zones.
The panel would also work through the context of the provided terms of references so as to deliver a clear and detailed report in eight weeks.
Adebayo is also confident that the process – which is under the Presidential Priority Projects (PPP) – would facilitate the delivery of world-class FTZs in the country.