REMARKS BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI DURING AUDIENCE WITH THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, INDUSTRY, MINES AND AGRICULTURE, THE ORGANISED PRIVATE SECTOR AND THE FEDERATION OF WEST AFRICA CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
STATE HOUSE, ABUJA 20TH SEPTEMBER, 2019
1. Trade is central to Nigeria’s economy. For centuries, our ancient cities have been regional hubs for trade and other economic activities.
2. We remain committed to ensuring this vibrant job creating sector continues to flourish.
3. In developing our policies, we consult key stakeholders like your esteemed Chambers. I am aware that your association actively participated and made valuable contributions during the consultation process of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We valued, accepted and adopted your contributions.
4. The implementation of this agreement is the next frontier for Nigerian businesses. It is our collective duty to ensure we get it right. That the interest of the various sectors of the Nigerian economy are safeguarded.
5. As you mentioned in your remarks, a critical success factor is the adherence to law and ethics by all stakeholders. Unfortunately, in recent times, many traders simply do not play by the rules. Our markets are flooded with smuggled and counterfeit goods. By these selfish practices we help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
6. From medicines to electronics to food items, our potential to manufacture and create jobs locally is severely hindered by a handful of Nigerians who choose profits over patriotism.
7. We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens. We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and properties.
8. Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders. After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
9. Within a few short weeks, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
10. This validates our action as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made in Africa goods and services.
11. We will continue to solicit your support, both here in Nigeria and across West Africa to ensure that we bring an end to the dumping of substandard items in our region and on the continent.
12. We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Your Association is a member of this committee. I expect you to continue your positive and patriotic contribution to support us in achieving a free trade area that employs Africans to produce quality made in Africa products.
13. I have taken note of your requests. May I suggest you submit these in writing to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment to enable us to formally review them and act accordingly.
I thank you and may God bless our country.