Monday, April 15, 2019 / 06.32PM / Nifemi
Taiyese for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: Pan African Magazine
In a recent interview with Proshare WebTV the Ambassador of Nigeria to Benin Republic H.E Amb kayode Oguntuase re-emphasized the need for the West African sub-region to drive economic integration.
Oguntuase was of the view that if this is achieved it will bring economic prosperity to the region, which has a major socio-economic challenge of youth unemployment.
For the Ambassador it was critical and beneficial to Nigeria to have a deepening of economic integration because of its position as the largest economy in the Sub-region.
Table 1 Sub-Saharan Trade Outlook
Source: World Bank
Getting A Handle on Integration
Giving insight into integration activities in the sub-region, the diplomat noted that for Nigeria and in particular Benin Republic the country to which he is an ambassador, there is already an established economic integration zone such as the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone (COPAZ) which comprises Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
COPAZ according to him provides an opportunity for members of the zone to maximize trade and cooperation which can have a positive effect on their economies respectively.
On the Nigeria-Benin Relations the Ambassador asserted that there are enormous opportunities for both countries, if they remain committed to working together considering their proximity.
Giving his view on the issue of smuggling, the Ambassador decried the fact that the activity was having a negative impact on Nigeria, particularly in the case of rice that is imported from India, Malaysia and Pakistan. This development from his observation was creating problems for Nigeria as it is against ECOWAS protocol.
He called for coherence between both countries in order to suppress and curb smuggling through international borders.
Smuggling A Persistent Albatross
“Following the realization that the issue of smuggling is not only between Nigeria and Benin Republic, Niger Republic was brought into the scheme to curb smuggling menance”, Oguntuase said.
Through his position as Ambassador, he said a lot of work has been done to discourage illegal trade. Speaking on the way forward he emphasized the need for formal trade, and make the Nigerian regulatory bodies more flexible, which is why they are now working with NAFDAC and Customs to ensure this is achieved.
With the recent establishment of the Seme-Krake border facility, Ambassador Oguntuase believes trade between Nigeria and Benin will be more regulated improving the economies of both nations.