Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom
By Crusoe Osagie
The Federal Government Tuesday said it was taking drastic measures to check the malaise of indiscriminate dumping of various products in the nation’s markets in order to reverse Nigeria’s massive trade deficit.
The Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, stressed that Nigeria suffers serious trade imbalance because people just come and dump products in our country.
He said the attitude of accepting whatever is imported into the country should be changed for us to achieve a positive balance of trade.
He made this known during a visit to Vegefresh Company Limited in Lagos, which Managing Director Samuel Joseph Samuel, described as a world class farm system and process development company employing over 600 people directly with potential to create additional 5,000 jobs before the end of the year through its expansion plan.
He said the company will before the end of the year open the largest organic green house plant in West Africa and has currently invested over $100million into crops and animal production, agro-allied processing industries, agricultural commodities trading among other services.
The minister said that the government through the ministry and other agencies will continue to encourage entrepreneurs who are doing the right thing in the country for such enterprises to be sustained by assisting them to bring in technologies and providing access to cheap funding.
“My experience round the world is that Nigerian products are not well packaged especially in the agro-allied products. We will make conditions that are very stringent for importers especially in areas where we have comparative advantage to produce locally so that our local producers can thrive,” he said.
He noted that if this problem can be solved, it will go a long way in showcasing what we have in Nigeria and it will also attract more investments into the country because it will increase the demand for products that we have comparative advantages in, due to the presence of raw materials while also creating more opportunities for jobs and wealth for Nigerians.
“We are working on the Industrial Revolution Plan that will provide an enabling and conducive environment for all local investors especially in the areas where we have comparative advantage due to presence of raw materials just like we have done for the cement industry where the local capacity has been increased from 2.2 million metric tonnes in 2002 to more than 28 million metric tonnes in 2012,” he said.
He noted that most of our demands can be met locally if capacity continues to be expanded and more investors take advantage of the conducive investment climate in the country.
“We should think more of exporting rather than importing after we have been able to meet our local demand so that we can get more advantage in international trading.
One of the mandates of the ministry of trade and investment is to develop SMEs and we are working very hard towards it. Anything the government is doing now is to increase the capacity of local production because it will generate more wealth for Nigerians and also address the issue of unemployment in the country,” he said.
He noted that there is need to develop the food processing sector and promote local production in the country in order to create more value for export.
He also said that manning the borders is not just the responsibility of government alone but that of all Nigerians because this is a democratic setting.
He implored Nigerians to partner with security agencies and work together by providing helpful information to help police our borders effectively because most of the products coming into the country are not fit for consumption and will affect us as individuals and also as a nation.