Border Closure Review: Benefits Still Outweigh Losses — Shippers Council
Against the backdrop of the diversion of cargoes to seaports of other West African countries following the closure of Nigeria’s borders, the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, has disclosed that a recent policy review meeting has concluded that the benefit of the closure so far outweighs the losses.
Some stakeholders had told Vanguard Maritime Report last week that West African traders who hitherto come to Nigeria to buy imported goods and transport same through the land borders have now started importing directly through their own ports adding that most of them are Nigerian citizens.
They also said Nigerian importers have started shipping their goods directly to the customers in other West African countries through those seaports causing considerable loss of cargo throughput to Nigeria’s ports in favour of other West African ports.
But speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the development, Executive Secretary of the NSC, Hassan Bello, said from the outcome of the policy review meeting involving the private sector, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, and others, the policy has helped to save the nation’s industries, especially the agro sub-sector of the economy.
He pointed out that the high rate of smuggling as a result of the porous borders placed unfair competition on Nigerian industries since factors of production oversees make goods produced there cheaper.
According to him, “There have been more gains for the country after the closure of the border. We recently held a stakeholders forum where we brought the private sector and the Customs to explain the border closure policy. In trade facilitation, we need to save our industries, especially agro-based products because of our porous borders.
“For every smuggled item, it means we are not giving fair competition to our producers because the cost of production is cheaper there than in Nigeria. So this takes our people out of business and we will be faced with growing unemployment.
“Although there are some problems that we need to address but there are some which we have comparative advantage here that we need to source here than in foreign countries.
“The border is porous, we need to tighten it against smuggling and dumping but there will be a time when you will say you are opening your border. However, technology must be deployed to curb smuggling.
“Issues like Cargo Tracking Note, CTN, contactless port/border post; technology will solve a lot of these problems.”