Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia on Tuesday said that the state would establish a 9,000- hectare free trade zone at its boundary with Rivers.
Ikpeazu made this known when Chief Olabitan Famutimi, the National President of Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), visited him in his guest house in Aba.
Ikpeazu said that the free trade zone was necessary to facilitate export of goods from the state.
“Abia State delegation to Singapore has left the shores of Nigeria to come back with the final design of our free trade zone.
“The free trade zone will occupy 9,000 hectare of land which has already been acquired in a location between Abia and Port Harcourt in Rivers.
“The idea is to ensure unification of the economies of Abia and Rivers in the next 10 years,” he said.
He also said that the state was working hard to get American endorsement for its products to facilitate their entry into the world market.
“Endorsement by America that what we do in Abia State is good for its market is what we need to reach the world, and I hope to see this happen in our time,” he said.
He said that Abia established a quality assurance management agency to collaborate with other related agencies in the country such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
The governor said that collaboration with such agencies would improve the quality of goods produced in the state.
Ikpeazu said that the state was exporting over one million pairs of shoes, bags and other leather products to some African countries weekly.
He added that about one million people worked in the industry.
Earlier, the NACC president said that his team was in the state to help to promote its products.
He said that African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) had signed a MoU with the chamber to represent it in West Africa.
He promised that through NACC and AGOA, the state would be given required business opportunities from America.
Famutimi said that the chamber would establish an AGOA office in Abia with a desk officer to run it.
He called for establishment of free trade zones in all states of the federation to improve the processing of products for export.
Famutimi also called for the signing of MoU between Abia and NACC to ensure continued relationship.