Written by Sarah NEGEDU

FG moves to improve operations of free trade zones

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, has said government is reviewing fiscal arrangements and incentives applicable to the country’s free trade zones so as to improve their operations.

He said the Nigeria Industrial Council had been working to review the fiscal arrangements and incentives available to operators in the zones vis-a-viz the customs territory.

Enelamah, who is also the council’s vice chairman, explained that the review was to ensure competitiveness of goods produced in the zone in the local and export markets.

A statement from the minister’s strategy and communications adviser, Mr. Bisi Daniels states that, “there are many free trade zones at different stages of development in the country and 14 are operational, 12 are under construction, while the development of 11 others is yet to commence.

“Also, the ongoing Special Economic Zones project is developing six special economic zones across the geopolitical zones.”

Enelamah said that approved enterprises within the government owned zones were entitled to incentives such as exemption from legislative provisions pertaining to taxes, levies, duties and foreign exchange regulations.

It explain that other incentives were full repatriation of foreign capital investment with capital appreciation of the investment at any time; up to 100percent of foreign ownership allowable; and no import or export licences required for operations.

The minister said that future licensing of zones would be closely linked to priority sectors for industrialization and export growth adding that the council was inaugurated in 2017 to spearhead the industrial agenda that would boost the contribution of manufacturing sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 250 percent over a five-year period.

According to him, the agenda would make Nigeria a manufacturing hub for West Africa through diversification of the economy.

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