The Director-General of Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf, on Tuesday, condemned the trade policy strategy of the Nigerian government.
He also criticised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for adding to the problem by formulating “a parallel trade policy”.
Yusuf spoke in response to a lecture on leveraging free trade agreements for Nigeria’s economic development by Professor Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export Import Bank.
The programme held at the Centre for Financial Journalism in Lagos.
Yusuf said: “Right now, our trade policy regime is very uncoordinated. Every agency of government is just throwing all sort of spanners in the works.
“Just last year, we were doing a review of our fiscal policy documents, where surgical and medical equipment were subjected to a tariff of 70 percent from about 10 percent.
“Some bureaucrats just seat somewhere, and they move tariffs up and down, they put all sort of things on the Import Prohibition list.
“The Central Bank has joined the trail in coming up with a parallel trade policy. It started with 41 items, it went to 42, to 50. Although they say it is monetary policy but is it indeed a trade policy tool.
“Each time our manufacturers speak, they speak of what product should be banned, what tariff should go up and so on, to the extent that our customs are spending 80 percent of their resources chasing smugglers here and there even at the expense of their lives.”
He stressed that the government needs to review the policies to emphasis more on competitiveness, adding that despite all the barrier, there is a lot of free trade in the informal economy.