By James Emejo in Abuja

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Aisha Abubakar Thursday put the cumulative value of textiles and garments imported or smuggled into the country at $4.2 billion, adding that $325 million was being lost in annual revenues to government.

Speaking at a high-level stakeholders’ policy validation retreat on cotton, textiles and garments, she said the cotton, textiles and garments (CTG) sector remained one of the key sectors currently prioritised in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as well as the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) due to its strategic importance to employment generation, wealth creation and industrial development.

The minister noted that the meeting had become necessary in order to build consensus and understanding on a clear revitalisation roadmap for the sustainable growth and development of the CTG sector across the value chain.

She said her ministry had in January 2015, published the approved National Cotton, Textile, Garment Policy which was aimed at improving the sustainable increase in production, investment and competitiveness of the sector to create jobs and wealth for Nigerians.

Abubakar, however, lamented that the outcome from the policy intervention were yet to materialise due to some constraints including insufficient cotton seeds for production, high cost of operations, smuggling and counterfeiting, high influx of cheap textile and garments products into the country, lack of enabling infrastructure as well as lack of quality and standard.

She said: “The issues highlighted above have affected the industry growth and necessitated the need for holistic review of the CTG policy to align with current realities with a view to boost production in order to increase investment in the textile and garment industry.”

She added that the revitalisation of the sector had the potential to create more job opportunities across the value chain particularly for farmers and textile manufacturers, reduce smuggling of textile products, as well as lead to increased revenue and stimulating foreign direct investment (FDI) in the CTG industry.

The minister further explained that the sector review was in line with the country’s industrialisation and diversification initiatives of government to invest in agriculture and manufacturing sectors which are deemed to be major contributors to economic growth and development.

She listed government’s vision for the CTG sector to include the creation of employment for about one million people by 2023, achieve self sufficiency and contribute 20 per cent share of the country’s total export earnings through textiles and garment exports which is projected to reach $2 billion by 2025, among other things.