The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has said Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are critical to boosting the country’s industrialization drive.
The President, NACC, Otunba Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, stated this at the Chamber’s June Breakfast Meeting on Investment Opportunities in Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones, held on Wednesday, 13th June, 2018 at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Akomolafe pointed out that investors all over the world were looking for jurisdictions where they would save costs and maximize returns on investment.
He said the FTZs offered such opportunities, having been identified as investors’ haven, with attractive incentives and enabling environment.
According to him, FTZs are the preferred places for investment because of friendly business laws and regulations deliberately put in place by Governments to boost manufacturing activities and promote the exportation of finished products.
Akomolafe said, “The idea of free trade zones was a well-developed system of attracting foreign direct investment into a country that has been in practice in developed economies around the world and was introduced into Nigeria with the establishment of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), which has led to the creation of different free trade zones across the country.
“The country has had opportunities in the past but they were wasted by the very people who should ensure compliance. It is my hope that at this critical juncture of our national life, certain fundamentals will be put in place; some of these will include the provision of critical infrastructure like the establishment of free trade zones.
“This will ultimately lead to a boost in industrialisation, which will bring about job creation, skills upgrade, promotion of exports and economic development.”
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, who was represented by Mr. Richard Obianu ESQ, Assistant General Manager (Managing Director’s Office), described the country’s FTZs as being among the best in the world while he urged investors to take advantage of incentives offered at the free trade zones by the Federal Government and reduce their operating costs.
Jime said investors could take advantage of the opportunities in the agro-allied, solid minerals, metals, oil and gas, as well as construction sectors. “We believe that if the Federal Government continues to develop infrastructure, it will help attract more investors into the industrial parks,” he added.
According to him, about 30 per cent could be removed from the operating costs of companies wishing to operate in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) in Nigeria, due to the numerous incentives created by Government.
He said companies operating in the zones were exempted from paying taxes and levies to the Federal, State and Local Governments, and also exempted from import duties on raw materials and other intermediate inputs.
Jime explained that up to 100 per cent foreign ownership of business was permitted; and foreign managers and qualified personnel may be employed by companies in the zones.
He said the incentives were created to attract investments, job creation, export promotion and knowledge transfer into the country.
Jime said companies in agriculture, solid mineral, manufacturing, oil and gas, banking and finance, real estate, pharmaceutical and healthcare could transfer their operations to the zones.
He added that the country currently had about 37 free trade zones and industrial parks in various stages of development across the country.
Mr. Debo Lukanmbi, Manager, Social Performance and Planning, Chevron Nigeria who gave a remark on Impact of Nigeria’s local content policy: Achieving sustainable economic value creation, stated that operators in the oil and gas industry have been helping to ensure that Nigeria achieves sustainable economic value creation through their commitment to the implementation of Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act. The commitment has led to significant development in local capacity building, in–country fabrication, manufacturing, among others.
Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) is at the fore front of promoting Nigeria’s ideals of economic and social development. Before the enactment of the NOGICD Act in 2010, CNL had, as far back as 1999, already recognized the need for a formal structure to encourage participation of local companies in the oil and gas industry by implementing the CNL Nigerian Content policy on Nigerian Content development. This was further enhanced in 2009 with a Local Community Content (LCC) strategy and guideline in 2009.
He added that Chevron Nigeria Limited, would continue to demonstrate their commitment to the socio-economic development of Nigeria by building mutually-beneficial partnerships, and supporting the policies of government on Nigerian Content Development.
We have helped in building the capacities of several Nigerian businesses by allocating substantial scopes of our major capital projects to Nigerian companies. We do all this, not just because it is required by the law, but because it is the right thing to do, he said.