The Federal Government yesterday, announced a five-year extension for the validity of operators’ licences in free trade zones across the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, explained that the move was to mitigate challenges hindering operators in the zone, noting that the directive is also coming on the heels of the Federal Government’s ease of doing business mandate.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ forum organised by the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) tagged “Streamlining free zone operations for global competitiveness,” the Minister urged the operators to take advantage of the extension, but ensure they file their yearly returns.
In his words: “With regards to the validity period of licenses, I understand that is one of the major challenges of operators at the free trade zone, I have directed that the validity period of licenses to be for five years, however, returns should be made every year and we want to assure that before the end of this month, all the issues with duty payment would be resolved.”
He said globally, free trade zones play a critical role in stimulating industrial activities, boosting the manufacturing sector and growing the economy, adding that their performance creates job opportunities and diversifies the economy to generate foreign exchange.
He added: “Free trade zones are very critical to revenue generation for the Nigerian economy and can also help to improve Nigeria’s fiscal position especially given the volatility of oil prices.
“Expanding Nigeria’s export capacity needs under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) mitigate the risk of Nigeria being a dumping ground for imports, while also boosting our foreign currency reserves. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to adopt strategies that will transform them into a dynamic instrument for economic growth.”