New Telegraph

Border Feud: FG in talks with Benin Republic on levy suspension

The Federal Government has disclosed that it is in advanced negotiations with the government of Benin Republic on suspending the imposed ‘Benetization levies’ placed on Nigerian trucks plying the routes since it is negating the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and ECOWAS ETLS.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, made this known in an interview with New Telegraph. He said that government was on top of the matter after he personally took some trips to Benin Republic to meet their government on the imposed levy that is disrupting trade facilitation across West Africa region. Adebayo explained that government was aware of the plight Nigerian exporters are facing with the movement of goods across Benin Republic. Also reacting to the logjam, a member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG), Mr. Imokhai Ehimigbai, noted that manufacturing exporters were still battling to export their products.

Ehimigbai, who is also the Export Manager for Aarti Steel (Nigeria) Limited, explained that Nigerian exporters were yearning for government’s intervention in the matter, which has caused movement disruptions in the West Africa region. He said: “Now there is a problem we are battling with, those of us who export to ECOWAS, especially to our immediately neighbours Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana. “This problem started three years ago and it is still on today. As at the time Nigeria opened borders, Benin Republic came with Benetization imposing duties on goods that transit to Benin Republic.

“This is a negation to one of the Protocols of ECOWAS, which says you are not supposed to pay import duties on your goods. “Today, if we are to export to Togo by sea, it is a minimum of three weeks but if I was to go by road, it is a maximum of three days for my goods to be in Ghana. “I don’t know what the Federal Government is doing on this. Although, we have reported to the ECOWAS Commission; a meeting was held last year in Abuja and we still don’t know the outcome of that meeting.” In his submission, the immediate past President of MAN, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, berated the action of the Benin Republic Government on the illegal imposition of levies on Nigerian trucks, saying that it was impeding trade facilitation in the West African region.

Ahmed said: “Under the Af- CFTA agreement, we expect trade liberalisation to happen, especially across African continent, most importantly the ETLS has already provided appropriate framework for transport across African countries, but unfortunately, Benin Republic has been very very transient in allowing trucks to move around the countries by charging heavy levy tolls. “Indeed, we have taken this up with government at various levels there has been meetings with various relevant authorities in Benin Republic and in Nigeria and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment at several times taken a trip to Benin Republic to raise these issues. “And at various fora, these matters have been raised. “The issues between countries sometimes take time to resolve but I can assure you we are watching the process and there are continues discussions and negotiations. “We will continue to put pressure on this to get results.”

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