From Our Correspondent in Abuja
A Presidential aide has challenged trade and industry stakeholders to initiate the right policies and proper implementation of the existing laws to address challenges affecting operation of free trade zones (FTZs) in Nigeria.
Special Adviser to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, John Uwajumogu, stated this at a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.
TheNewsZenith reports that the Nigeria Economic Zones Association conveyed the meeting in collaboration with Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA).
Uwajumogu remarked that Nigeria’s FTZs have the potential to drive the country’s industrial aspirations.
“The smooth operations of the scheme will accelerate the growth of the country’s economy,” he said.
According to him, Special Economic zones (SEZs) constitute an importance component in driving the Federal Government’s development agenda.
“SEZs provide that tangible expressions that will provide the needed policy to drive the industrial, trade and investments aspirations.”
Uwajumogu further stressed the need to promote local production capacity to enhance export and attract more investments.
In his remarks, Managing-Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Prof. Adesoji Adesugba highlighted various challenges impeding the growth of the FTZs.
Adesugba pointed out that “there is the need to address the challenges in order to strengthen the nation’s economy”.
He listed the problems to include overlapping mandates, incoherent policies, improper implementation of existing laws and poor roads network leading to the FTZs locations.
NEPZA boss, however, assured investors of adequate security of their investments.
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He reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to ensure that operators do business with ease.
“We have an agreement in place to provide the free trade zones. So, if we don’t live up to that agreement, investors will not come.
“In today’s age we need to make Nigeria competitive as a matter of urgency. We need to accelerate development and this scheme can do it,” Adesugba said.
Also contributing, Managing-Director, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) Sen. Tijani described the roundtable as timely.
Kaura said the smooth operations of the SEZs was crucial in propelling Nigeria’s economy.
The Chairman Nigeria Economic Zones Association, Chief Nabil Saleh, described the roundtable as a platform to address challenges confronting the smooth operations of Nigeria’s FTZs.
Saleh called for concerted efforts to provide workable solutions to challenges hindering operations of the zones.
“Free trade zones hold immense potential for trade and economic development.
“They have the power to spur industrialisation, job creation and technological advancement,’’ Saleh said.
Presenting an overview of FTZs in Nigeria, the Managing-Director, Lagos Free Trade Zone, Mr Dinesh Rathi emphasised the need to review the NEPZA and OGFTZA acts with a view to meeting emerging trends.
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