By Kingsley Alu, Abuja
The Nigeria Sugar Development Council (NSDC) has said that the take off of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in January would not affect the Nigeria Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) as the country has already secured under the trade agreement , an allowance of 10 years to implement fully, the sugar master plan before it would start producing sugar locally.
The Plan contains fiscal and investment specific incentives designed to stimulate and attract new investors to the industry in order to increase local sugar production and reduce the nation’s dependence on imports.
Executive secretary, NSDC,Dr Latif Busari, said this during a media briefing on the activities of the agency yesterday in Abuja.
Represented by the director, Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics in the Council, Mr Hezekiah Kolawole, the executive secretary said in line with this, the importation of sugar into the country come January by any AfCFTA member nation would not be allowed by the government as this would defeat the spirit and letter of the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) as captured in the NSMP.
According to him, with efforts put in so far into the implementation of NSMP by the Council, Nigeria is now almost in good stead to lead the rest of Africa in the sugar industry.
“And you know that there is the Rule of Origin principle under AfCFTA that makes it difficult to import sugar from elsewhere and say you want to export it to another country.
” What you must export is something that you manufacture in your own country that you can export under this AfCFTA platform. The rule of origin will play out under the AFCTA platform. We don’t have any problems with regard to AfCFTA coming into operation on January because sugar industry is among those classified for ten years allowance for the implementation of the policy to be effected and sugar will be locally produced in Nigeria,” he further stated.