The Federal Government has suspended the issuance of licences for the operation of the Free Trade Zones (FTZ) in the country.
According to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, Nigeria is yet to see the potential of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth due to poor implementation.
Adebayo said this Monday at the inauguration of the panel set up for the evaluation of the performance of FTZs in Abuja.
According to a statement by the minister’s spokesperson, Ifedayo Sayo, all applications for FTZ licences will henceforth not be processed pending the completion of the panel’s assignment.
The panel’s key objective is to provide a set of recommendations to inform government strategy on FTZs based on a thorough evaluation off the current operations of FTZs.
The panel, headed by the Minister, also has the Minister of State in the Ministry, Mariam Katagum, as a member.
“The panel would work through context of the terms of references provided to deliver a clear and detailed report within eight weeks of inauguration.
“It will also map out and implement clear strategies to evaluate the operations of recipients of FTZ licenses for the purpose of delivering world-class FTZs as expected under the Presidential Priority Projects (PPP),” the official said.
Adebayo said FTZs in the country have not performed to expectations in terms of impacting positively on the industrial development of the country as witnessed in developed countries.
“It is important to note that FTZs in most developed countries have contributed successfully towards their industrialization process. The model was adopted by the Asian Tigers and today most countries, including African countries are beginning to key into the idea.
“Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) has begun delivery of world-class FTZs across the country. However, due to poor implementation, we are yet to take delivery of the dynamic potentials of FTZs as an instrument for economic growth,” he said.
He disclosed that Nigeria presently has 33 licensed FTZ operators in the country but added that due to poor implementation “only 12 are operational.”
“Currently the performance of FTZs licensees has been below expectation and this heavily impacts our ability to deliver on crucial priority areas of the government.
“FTZs are key to the nation’s push towards industrialisation and will have a significant impact on Nigeria’s trade and economic fortunes which is greatly required given the current economic challenges.
“Globally, FTZs account for 68 million jobs and generate USD 500 billion annually.
“The sector can be extremely lucrative if executed efficiently and we must aim to improve the operation of our zones,” the Minister added.