A Trade and Economic Development Advocate, Mr Ken Ukaoha has urged the Federal Government to adhere to stipulated measures by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to prevent unwanted importations into country.
Ukaoha, President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) made the call in Abuja.
Ukaoha was reacting to allegation by some Nigerians that China had resolved to push its used vehicles to Nigeria and other global markets as a strategy to shore up its income from automobile.
The trade advocate explained that the WTO does not take away a country’s’ right to regulate importation but empowers it to strictly regulate unguarded importations that could be detrimental to its economy.
“Article six, seven, eight, 17, 18 and 19 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1994, provides safeguards measures against unwanted importations and influx of products that can be detrimental to the economy.
“That is why WTO’s rules created tariff and non tariff barriers, administrative and technical barriers.
“It is not that China is dumping cars or planning to dump cars in Nigeria. We have the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the ports. Even if it is cars used in China, it is still Nigerians that will import them into the country.
“I have heard about this allegation, I checked around but I am yet to see made in China cars driven in Nigeria here. China manufactures cars but you do not find such cars here,’’ he said.
Advising Nigerians on the need to be careful on allegations that are unverifiable, Ukaoha said that there was an Auto policy created and developed to restrict importation of cars for local manufacturers to gain momentum.
Ukaoha said that the intention of the frame mass of the Auto Policy was also to boost job creation from that particular automobile sector.
“However, we have a situation where our policies are likely unimplemented, there must be some strictness in the implementation of policies for people to be serious.
“We have also opened up the space, even in the auto policy, there are provisions there for manufacturers outside to come down here to open up indigenous manufacturing companies.
“But there is also a proviso that such can also import Completely Knocked Down (CKD) and assemble it in Nigeria,” he said.
He said that the reason for that particular proviso was to ensure that Nigeria was not just importing wholly manufactured vehicles that did not create one job.
According to him, by the time a firm here brings up tires, engines, and body of cars among others for coupling, they have created some jobs for those who will do the coupling, packaging, mechanical and painting work.
Ukaoha said that those value chains would create subsidiary jobs for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country but most importantly there would be knowledge and technology transfer through the assemblages.
“Technology transfer comes in to build up our own people in a robust manner from the primary status to the secondary assemblage of such vehicles. The same thing applies to all of these Tricycles.
“So if some companies here are doing that, people should not look at it from a negative perspective, they must look at it from what the policy seek to address,’’ he warned.
Speaking on industrial development, and drawing examples from most industrialised countries like Britain, Germany and Japan among others, he urged Nigerians to support indigenous products to boost industrialisation.
He said that there could be industrial development if Nigerians could stop underrating and disparaging indigenous products.
“There was a time if you bought something, Nigerians will say this one is Taiwan or Japan, its substandard. They also used to say this one is made in China, yet the same China is moving and producing also for U.S.A market.
“We should get out of this mentality, we should value our own. The Aba shoe and cloth manufacturers must thrive. When you take the same Nigerian products overseas, everyone admires them,” he said.
He also urged the Nigerian media to ensure that made-in-Nigeria products were projected and promoted in a good way.
“Innoson is producing beautiful cars but people overlook them and buy from abroad.
“So, it is also the responsibility and the role of the Federal Government to begin to purchase Innoson cars to promote local content.’’
He lauded the Federal Government’s recent policy that military uniforms should be made in Nigeria and advised that it should be replicated in other sectors.
According to him, it will make a huge impact positively on the economy through job creation.