President Muhammadu Buhari has described traders who smuggle fake products into the country as selfish individuals who choose profits over patriotism
The president spoke on Friday when he received a delegation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Nigeria and West Africa.
Buhari said the recent closure of Nigerian borders has seen a decline in counterfeit products “within a short time”.
He said that was why Nigeria insisted that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) must not emphasise only free trade but also “legal trade of quality made-in-Africa goods and services”.
In a series of tweets, the president said: “Today I met with a delegation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry from Nigeria and West Africa. I assured them of our administration’s readiness to work with them to bring an end to smuggling and the dumping of substandard items in West Africa and on the continent.
“It is regrettable there are traders who simply do not play by the rules; who choose profits over patriotism, and whose selfish practices in perpetrating smuggling and counterfeiting help keep foreign factories working while closing ours.
“We have all heard stories about the dangerous and sometimes, fatal impact of fake drugs and foods on our citizens. We have also seen how fake electrical items have led to fires in homes and markets thereby destroying lives and property.
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“Most of these substandard and illegal items are smuggled through our land borders. After many years of diplomacy and aggressive regulatory oversight which yielded few results, we decided to close our land borders for a limited time to assess the impact of this measure.
“Within a few short weeks since the partial border closures began, we are already seeing a decline in the volumes of counterfeit smuggled goods in some of our major markets across the country.
“This validates our action as a Government when we insist that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement must not only promote free trade, but legal trade of quality made-in-Africa goods and services.
“We will soon finalise the National Action Committee on the implementation of the AfCFTA. We expect the organized private sector to continue to support us in achieving a Free Trade Area that employs Africans to produce high-quality made-in-Africa products.
“Let me also thank NACCIMA for the honour done to me with the investiture today as their Grand Patron. I will not let them down. Trade is central to our economy; we are a nation of traders,and have been for centuries. I will ensure that we continue to give the sector full support.”