EPA, CET: FG KEEN ON PROTECTING LOCAL MANUFACTURERS, SAYS YUGUDA


The Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda who stated this weekend in his presentation as the guest lecturer at the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) stressed that the Government would only adopt economic measures that would promote the growth of the Nigerian economy in line with Vision 20:2020.
MAN has continued to oppose the EPA which is a scheme to create free trade area (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, arguing that it does not offer the required protection instruments in its current state.
While stating the Government position, Yuguda declared: ”the Government is actively encouraging the African Union and ECOWAS to reconsider endorsing the EPA in its current state. The Government is critically assessing options that will improve competiveness and ensure that local manufacturers are adequately protected.”
In the same vein, the Minister stressed that the Government “is negotiating a strong Common External Tariff (CET) agreement with our ECOWAS partners, which will enable us to protect our strategic industries where necessary, so that optimal tariff lines are reflected in the  deviation instrument.”
On the Export Expansion Grant (EEG), an incentive introduced to encourage the export of Nigerian products, Yuguda revealed that the measure was being reviewed to make it more efficient.” Stressing that MAN would be carried along in the review exercise, the Minister explained that the aim was to “ensure that the grant returns economic value that is equal to the large amounts being conceded to exporters in the scheme.”
Speaking further, the Minister stated that the Government had initiated many policies and programmes aimed at stimulating growth in the manufacturing sector and boosting its competitiveness, including the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), National Automotive Policy, National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), special funding arrangement for manufacturers as well as massive road construction and rehabilitation.
Listing the success stories in Manufacturing, the Minister said: “in 2013, the manufacturing sector recorded 21.8% compared to 17.8% growth rate in 2010…The share of manufactured goods to total imports in Nigeria rose to 70% in 2013 from 51% in 2012.
“Capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector also improved to 52.7% in 2013, compared to 46.6% in 2012.The sector recorded an inventory level of N17.3 billion by the end of 2013, down from about N22billion earlier in the year and N33.2 billion in 2012.”
Encouraging the manufacturers to work towards the success of the Transformation Agenda of the present Administration, he said: “There is still work to be done, but it is evident to all that this Administration has pioneered a transformation that has set the pace and planted the building blocks for a prosperous future.  The task before us all now is to increase platforms and strategies for collaborating with the private sector, with a greater emphasis on accelerating the productive capacity of the manufacturing industry.
“We will continue to dialogue with the private sector and vigorously pursue measures to reduce the binding constraints faced by the private sector in their efforts to sustain and grow their business.  As government and the private sector deepen collaboration and strengthen partnership, I am confident that Nigeria’s manufacturing sector will become not only globally competitive, but globally successful.”