The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stated that the proposed foreign exchange ban on food imports in Nigeria, will not affect the country’s potential benefit from the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This was disclosed by the Governor of the apex bank, Mr. Gowdin Emefiele while speaking with State House correspondents, at the retreat organised for ministerial designates in the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday.
The CBN boss, when quizzed on how the ban on food importation may affect Nigeria’s potential benefit from AfCFTA, pinpointed that the restriction would not affect the content of the AfCFTA, as agreement was still ongoing and the terms of engagement were still being discussed and negotiated.
He said, “The ban will not affect the content of the AfCFTA, in any case the AfCFTA is an agreement that is ongoing, the terms of engagement are still being discussed and negotiated”
Emefiele went on to add that it is wrong and inappropriate that an item that can be produced in Nigeria should be imported into Nigeria.
In his words, “The important thing is that Nigeria needs to stand as the largest economy in Africa and the largest populated country in Africa, we need to stand and dictate the terms under which we want to be in it and this is what we are saying.”
While agreeing that there will be challenges ahead, the CBN noted that banning FOREX on importing certain items that can be produced in Nigeria is fundamental to the country’s chances, adding that the creation of jobs is of utmost importance to the bank at this point in time.
“When we get into the AfCFTA issues, we will also look at the details of it, but at this time, we are saying we need to create jobs for our country, for the youths. We yearn for growth and the only way we can really accelerate growth in Nigeria between now and next four years is to see to it that items that can be produced in Nigeria are indeed produced in Nigeria rather than being imported into the country.” Emefiele said While there have been several reactions regarding the planned forex ban on food imports.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, Mr. Mbaram said, “The most striking implication of the Forex ban is a positive one in that it basically creates a situation where hurdles are placed on the path of importers of food and other Agro commodities,”
“This makes it more expensive for them to finance these imports. It must be kept in mind that these commodities are not in themselves banned, but that they are merely being handed hostile terms.
“The key benefit is that it provides some measure of protection for the local producers of such commodities and its derivatives,” Mbaram noted.