The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, on Monday in Abuja inaugurated the Trade Policy of Nigeria Review Committee (TPNRC).
The minister said that the committee would mark a significant path on how Nigeria uses international trade and investment as veritable tools for economic growth and poverty reduction.
“Today, we have begun a new phase in the ongoing efforts by the ministry to review and update the National Trade Policy of Nigeria 2002.
“This is with a view to ensuring that the new trade policy framework reflects the dramatic changes that have taken place in the global trade and economic policy landscape.
“This is especially the 2008/2009 global financial and economic crises as well as the current health, economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have no doubt that all these developments have greatly affected the way we produce and trade, including the evolution of global production networks and global value chains.
“It is, therefore, the firm commitment of the ministry that Nigeria has to strategically respond to these global trends in order to promote and sustain its trade performance,’’ Adebayo said.
He said that the ministry expected that the updated Trade Policy of Nigeria document would effectively capture the nine core policy priorities of the recently inaugurated Medium-Term National Development Plan 2021-2025.
“These include building a thriving and sustainable economy, enlarge agricultural output for food security, attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products as well as expand transport and other infrastructure development,"
“Others are to expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialisation, improve access to quality education, affordable health care and productivity.
“It also involves enhancing social inclusion and reduce poverty, build systems to fight corruption, improve governance and create national cohesion and improve security for all,’’ he said.
According to the minister, it is important for Nigeria to ensure that the new Trade Policy of Nigeria is consistent with international best practices to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
This is to enable the Policy to fully take into account the realities of the national economy in the 21st Century.
While underscoring the essence of a vibrant national trade policy, Adebayo said that empirical evidence clearly demonstrated that countries that were open to international trade tend to grow faster.
“They innovate, improve productivity and provide higher income and more opportunities to their people. Open trade also benefits lower-income households by offering consumers more affordable goods and services,’’ he said.
The minister further said that all national trade policy frameworks needed to explicitly address all aspects of development, including sustainable development in a holistic manner.
“This is by providing opportunities for creating wealth through income generation and distribution, increased employment and competitiveness as well as economic and social well-being.
“This is more so as trade has been central to ending global poverty and continue to contribute to the economic growth and development of all economies, big or small.
“In this context, the assignment of TPNRC is essentially about finding transparent strategic balance between what to export and what to import, which would cumulatively significantly contribute to economic growth and social progress.
“To ensure transparency and predictability, it is important that the Trade Policy of Nigeria adopts a perspective approach, for example, a five-year cycle.
“So, your document will be the first in this dispensation – Trade Policy of Nigeria 2022 – 2026,’’ he said.
Adebayo said that the national trade policy framework should be continuously augmented by year-to-year import and export policy guidelines, thereby, reducing trade costs and enhancing a more transparent trade-enabling environment in Nigeria.
“For this to be effective and efficient, a robust and intensive mechanism for consultations with stakeholders, particularly the private sector and civil society is required.
“The new National Trade Policy of Nigeria should provide a useful platform for mainstreaming trade in the country’s development policies and strategies, especially with respect to the core priorities of the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2021-2025,"
“It should also integrate into strategic value chains, trade and women economic empowerment and the enthronement of a free-flow modern system of inter-state commerce.
“This would provide unprecedented opportunities for all Nigerians to achieve greater economic freedom and prosperity.
“The use of market-friendly trade policy interventions by government, tariff and non-tariff instruments to promote and sustain the national economy cannot also be over emphasised,’’ the minister said.
He said that he looked forward to receiving the Draft National Trade Policy of Nigeria 2022-2026 on or before May 20.
Responding, Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Mike Okpanachi, assured the minister that the committee would work assiduously to ensure coherence and consistency with the various activities and issues already articulated under the ministry’s Trade Policy Action Plan 2022 – 2026.
The major objectives of Nigeria’s trade policy were first articulated in a document in 1989 under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
The National Trade Policy of Nigeria was later revised in 2002 and has not been reviewed since then.