The Counsellor/Head of the African and Management Trade Policies Review Division, of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mr. Jacques Degbelo, on Wenesday urged the country to open its doors to other nations for trade because the latter equally needs access to foreign markets to boost its exports as well as diversify the economy.
Specifically, he said Nigeria needed to establish modest conditions for exporting to other nations as well framework for other countries to trade with the country.
He said the WTO, including other multilateral agencies, were keen on helping the country develop appropriate trade regulations to help to significantly diversify its economy away from oil.
The WTO scribe said though there’s need for every country to guard against harmful trade practices that undermine economic development and kill local industries, adopting outright protectionist strategy was not the right way forward.
Speaking in Abuja during a media briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing workshop on ‘Strengthening Nigeria’s Trade Support Imitative: Making the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Work for Nigeria’s, he added that the organisation would guide the country to make it competitive and effectively diversify its revenue base.
Nevertheless, Trade Advisor to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Chief Negotiator, Mr. Chiedu Osakwe, said it was disheartening that the country currently has no trade defence mechanism though the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, is currently leading efforts to correct the anomalies.
He said part of the issues to be considered as the country attempts to rejig it trade laws and treaties would be whether the current 0.5 per cent levy on exports was productive or otherwise, considering government’s efforts to boost exports.
Osakwe in an interview also stated that though the country needed a safeguard against importation of heavily subsidised goods which undermine economic diversification, such regulations must be carried out in a “non-protectionist” way.
He further argued that the larger responsibility rested on domestic agents as the government tries to refine its trade programme.
Importantly, he said there must be coherence between monetary and fiscal authorities as well as structural reform policies to help build investor-confidence in the economy.
According to him, the country’s existing trade regulations had become outdated and needed fine-tuning to align it with modern economic realities.