FG Prohibits Importation of Tomato through Land Borders

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• Imposes 50% tariff on tomato paste

The federal government has embargoed the importation of raw tomato through the neighbouring countries into Nigeria.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Instrument,  Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, announced the policy which was ratified by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on March 15.

He said FEC, which also approved the establishment of the Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council (The Industrial Council), ratified the policy and the implementation of some extraordinary price-based measures to safeguard the balance of payments, under the condition of recession.

At a briefing he jointly held with the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar,  yesterday, Enelamah said the policy was aimed at improving the value chain and attracting investment.
It would also encourage local production by cutting dumping and reducing post-harvest losses estimated at 40 per cent due to inadequate storage facilities.

He said henceforth, the importation of tomato paste can only be allowed through the seaports.
In addition, the federal government has also prohibited the importation of tomato paste, powder and concentrate in retail form or in other packages that can be conveniently produced locally.

He said the only form in which tomatoes can be brought into the country is as industrial paste that importers can repackage and then sell.
But he warned that imported tomato concentrates would attract 50 per cent tariff and a special industrial levies of $1,500 per metric tonne, to be used as a backward integration plan to develop the local industry.

The 50 per cent tariff imposition is very similar to the policy adopted by government in relation to imported sugar, cement and other things that can be produced in Nigeria.

“This policy will stop the dumping of tomato paste through our land border. People bring these things through neighbouring countries and smuggle them in. If they are not produced in those countries, they must be imported through sea port,” Enelamah insisted.
The minister said the restriction of the importation of tomato concentrate to the seaports was to address the abuse of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

He said government focus on the tomato industry is consistent with Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) where government intends to work with stakeholders to launch world class industries that will make it easier to export and lower the cost of doing business.
Nigeria imports an average of 150,000 metric tons of tomato concentrate per annum valued at $170million mostly due to inadequacy in capacity to produce tomato concentrate.
The current demand for fresh tomato fruits is estimated at about 2.45million metric tons per annum (MTPA) while the country produces only about 1.8million MTPA.

The tomato policy will facilitate the increase in production of tomato and local consumption. The policy will reduce dumping, directly create 60,000 jobs in fresh fruit production and processing and increase annual production to 2.5 million tonnes.
In addition, government will also Include tomato production and processing in the list of industries eligible for investment incentives administered by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).

“This new policy is at the core of NIRP which prioritizes agro-allied businesses, an area that we have comparative advantage. These measures ultimately, accelerates the growth of the manufacturing industry and deepens diversification,” Enelamah said.
These measures will become effective 30days after April 7 2017, when the ECOWAS Secretariat was notified.

 

(PunchNg)

 

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