‘How manufacturers can harness opportunities in ECOWAS market’
Considering the challenges of accessing the global markets, Nigerian manufacturers have been tasked on the need to upscale their production to meet domestic and regional markets as part of enhancing their capacities and attracting foreign investments.
The former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, while delivering his keynote address at the yearly general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently, said Nigeria and other African countries will be making a grave mistake if they looked at the development of industries in the world and think that they ought to follow a similar path to that industrial economies have followed, and ignore areas where Africans have comparative advantage.
According to him, the Nigerian domestic market is large enough to enable the local industry to achieve economies of scale.“If you add the ECOWAS market in the equation, the trade opportunities are even more lucrative to attract both domestic and foreign direct investments which are critical to long term balanced development. Intra-regional and intra-Africa trade should be the way to go before we as Africans can venture head on into the global trade”, he added.
President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, had emphasised that the proposed admission of Morocco into ECOWAS as equivalent to signing the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by the European Union through the back door.
He therefore urged the Federal government to oppose the move as it would spell doom to the productive sector of the economy.Mkapa, justifying his position, said effective trade policies would encourage local manufacturing companies to build better products to compete not only in the regional but also international markets.
He however advocated for an improved business environment to make the productive sector realise its potential.“I have come to realise the imperative of the private sector and all levels of the government (Federal, State and Local) to work in concert to continuously improve the business climate. In this endeavour MAN should take the lead advocacy role in pushing for business climate improvement reforms to make them competitive for the domestic and export markets.
“The government needs to deal with issues of bureaucracy and red tape, endemic corruption, reform of business registration procedures.“While our aspiration to pursue development through trade without aid is as ideal as ambitious to any responsible government, the present global paradigm is unfavourably structured for Africa and whether by design or by default, it serves to ensure that we don’t achieve those aspirations and we remain perpetually dependent”, he added.
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