In a bid to stay in the good books of the European Union (EU), Nigeria has agreed to reduce import duties for about 170 items by various percentages, ranging from 10 to zero with effect from January 2017.
About 86 of the items received 10 per cent slash, 50 with 5 per cent while about 20 others now attract free import duties.
It would be recalled that the real sector, represented by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), had in August 2016 stood against the (ECOWAS)/European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which demanded throwing the Nigerian borders open for imported items to flood the markets.
However, government had, after a series of meetings with representatives of EU, expressed readiness to derive benefits from the €26 billion grant, dangled before it and other ECOWAS-member countries, as part of the European Union (EU) backed EPA agreement.
But an analyst and an economist, Uche Nwafor, described Federal Government move at allowing imported items to come into its market as capable of erasing the little gains that the manufacturing sector might have made in the past five years that the negotiation were stalled.
“Reducing tariff at this point in time amounts to undermine the efforts of the real sector, and for a recession-ridden economy, the policy is not the best,” Nwafor stated.
But minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun defending government position said the policy thrust was in a bid to further improve on the economic growth and re-jig the market.
The Minister explained that Nigeria could not be working in isolation from other members of ECOWAS, which are enjoying Common External Tariff.
A statement signed by Adeosun said: “Presidential approval has been obtained for the 2016 fiscal policy made up of the supplementary protection measures for implementation together with the ECOWAS CET 2015-2019 with effect from 17th of October, 2016.
The items in the list whose import duties were reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent are milk and cream; tea; fats of sheep or goat; malt extract; tomatoes prepared or preserved by vinegar; under natured ethyl alcohol for medical, pharmaceutical or scientific purpose; petroleum oils and oils obtained from bitumen minerals other than crude.
Also, approval to reduce tariff for the following was given: tubes, pipes, hoses, sheets, foil, tape, paper and paper board and semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel.
Others including equipment for agriculture, cement, hospitality, power, iron and steel, solid minerals, textile and aviation, the government said, are to receive a zero import duty.
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