By Ikeoye Oyetoro
Nigeria is currently wooing Japanese investors to take advantage of the various incentives available in the nationâ€™s Export Processing Zones and invest in the Nigerian economy.
A free trade zone (FTZ) is one or more special areas of a country where the usual trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas are eliminated and bureaucratic requirements are lowered in hopes of attracting local and foreign investments.
As a result a summit on the viability of Nigeriaâ€™s Free Trade Zones tagged FTZ Nigeria 2010 will be staged by Century 21 Systems Limited, in Lagos the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, next month, with the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) as Chief Host.
The Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Humphrey Enemakwu Abah gave this indication recently while receiving Japanese business delegation on a courtesy visit led by the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Toshitsudu Uesawa in his office. The minister of state said that Nigeria has taken up the challenge of development very squarely and have the vision of becoming one of the twenty most developed economies of the world by year 2020.
Abah appealed to Japanese business committee to expand its trade, investment and economic co_operation with Nigeria adding that Nigeria â€“ Japan relations have continued to remain cordial and trade between both countries continued to grow since Nigeria attained independence in 1960.
He also disclosed that the two countries cooperate at multilateral institutions such as the WTO., World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations adding that the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries resulted in the establishment of the Japan â€“ Nigeria Special Partnership Forum (JNSPF) in 2001 which was the first of such relationship between Japan and African country.
However, Kenneth Odusola-Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer, Century 21 Systems Limited, said that the summit with theÂ theme, â€œThe Future of the Free Trade Zones in Nigeriaâ€, will address the pertinent issues facing Nigerian FTZs while comprehensively covering global issues and their relevance. â€œAlso, the participants at FTZ Nigeria 2010 will gainÂ practical and effective understanding of the concept of economics of FTZ in a growing economy and insight into global FTZ business, strategies and expectations, including trend in the over 3000 FTZs across the world,â€ he said.
Odusola-Stevenson, further noted that like most FTZs around the world, investors in the Nigerian FTZs stand to benefit a lot of incentives, tax and other waivers that would significantly insulate such businesses from the vagaries of the global economic meltdown since operating within the zone automatically confers upon the investors certain privileges, benefits and incentives which the Federal Government has strategically designed to create a business-friendly and competitive environment for the investors.
â€œFTZs are normally organized around major seaports, international airports and national frontiers areas with many geographical advantages for trade like Hong Kong, Singapore, Nigeria and a host of others. In Nigeria, Calabar Export Processing Zone, Lagos Free Trade Zone and OK Free Trade Zone are practical example of a zone located near the sea.