Border closure: IMF backs Nigeria, urges resolution of issues

The International Monetary Fund has backed Nigeria’s closure of its borders with neighbouring countries over issues bordering on illegal trade.

It however called on the Federal Government to speedily resolve the issues that led to the closure.

It said the closure of Nigeria’s borders with Republic of Benin  and Niger if sustained for a longer period might  affect   Africa’s    economy negatively.

The Director, Africa Development, International Monetary Fund, Abebe Selassie said these while speaking on the regional outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria  in August partially closed its borders with Benin and Niger to curb rice smuggling  threatening the country’s attempt to boost local production.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had said  on the sidelines of the World Bank meetings  the action was taken because the FG was not getting the right cooperation with neighbouring countries.

She said going by the fact the Nigeria had signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, there was a need for the government to ensure that those bilateral agreements with other countries were respected

But Selassie said while the AfCFTA had the capacity to stimulate intra-African trade, such potential could only be achieved under an atmosphere discouraging trade barriers.

He said, “You know, it’s a kind of trade that we want to facilitate, and the AfCFTA I think will do that subject to tariffs, of course, being lowered, which is what the agreement deals with, but also not other barriers to trade being opened up.

“On the border closure in Nigeria, which has been impacting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the borders have been closed, reflecting concerns about smuggling that’s been taking place, illegal trade, not the legal trade that you want to facilitate.

“So, we’re very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is fostering.

“To be sure if the border closure was to be sustained for a long time, it’s going to definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger, which of course, rely quite extensively on their big brother next door. So, we hope that there will be a resolution to that.”
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