The Nigerian Government has stopped the issuance of licences for operation of free trade zones in the Country.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Adeniyi Adebayo announced the suspension on Monday at the inauguration of a Committee set up for the review of the performance of free trade zones, adding that applications for free trade zones would henceforth not be treated until the completion of the panel’s assignment.
Free trade zones are a special economic zone in a geographical area where goods may be landed, stored, manufactured, handled, or reconfigured and re-exported under certain customs regulations and are generally not subject to customs duties.
“It is important to note that free trade zones in most developed Countries have contributed successfully to their industrialisation process,” he said.
“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 free trade zones across the Country,” Adebayo said.
He disclosed that only 12 of the 33 licensed free trade zones operators in Nigeria were operational on account of poor implementation.
“Currently the performance of free trade zones licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the Government,” Adebayo said.
“Free trade zones 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 $500 billion annually.”
According to the Minister, the panel would offer a number of recommendations to inform Government’s strategies based on a comprehensive evaluation of their operations.