As a reflection of good neighborliness and smooth regional integration strategy to boost its economic frontiers, the Economic Community for West African State (ECOWAS) has reversed the rule of origin, paving way for enterprises operating at the Special Economic Zones in its policy in Nigeria to benefit from AFCTA preferential treatment.
This policy reversal has been credited to the strategic and resolute trade diplomacy of Mr. Victor Liman, Nigerian Acting Chief Trade Negotiator and Director General, Office of Trade Negotiation, who lobbied the ECOWAS to change its position on rules of origin for goods coming out of Special Economic Zone as well as the Free Zones Enterprises (AFZE) across Nigeria.
ECOWAS under its trade Liberalisation Scheme had excluded goods produced within Nigeria’s special economic zones from rule of origin application, a situation that threatens Nigeria’s interest as a country with the highest number of special economic zones in West African region.
OtunbaAdeniyi Adebayo, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment while commending the timely intervention of the Nigerian Trade Negotiator for convincing the ECOWAS body to reverse its earlier position; noted that the decision of the regional body would have negatively impacted on the trading performance of the SEZs investors; thereby affecting the FDI inflow into Nigeria.
Also, the Nigerian Economy Zones Association (NEZ) in a statement described Mr. Victor Liman, Nigeria Acting Chief Trade Negotiator, as a smart trade diplomat who has rescued Nigeria from likely huge loss of multi- billion naira state investment and a distortion in foreign direct investment if goods from SEZs are banned from enjoying AFCTA preferential treatment.