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Post COVID-19: NEPZA lauds FG`s commitment to free trade zone scheme

The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), has expressed satisfaction with Federal Government’s commitment toward efficient management of the Free Trade Zone scheme for speedy national economic recovery and growth in post COVID-19.

Mr Bitrus Dawuk, NEPZA Acting Managing Director, made the commendation on Monday in Abuja in a statement signed by Mr Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA.

Dawuk stated this in his presentation titled, “Seeking New Frontier for Repositioning NEPZA for Maximum Investor Attraction and Retention in the Post COVID-19 Era’’ via Webinar online conference.

The conference was organised by a Dubai-based free trade zone training and management consulting company, CTP International FZLLE for selected industry experts across the world.

Dawuk explained that he was not surprised by the president’s support for NEPZA and the entire operations of free trade zone in the country.

He added that the Federal Government’s former subtle reservation toward the sector changed when the president visited China to have an assessment of Chinese free trade zone model.

Dawuk said that the authority had enjoyed some considerable increase of budgetary allocation since the president discovered the need to support the sector to perform optimally.

The managing director said that the COVID-19 pandemic presented both challenges and opportunities for free zones world-wide.

He explained that the current era had also challenged the manufacturing value addition of free trade zone enterprise and disrupted the global supply chain.

The acting chief executive added that the pandemic presented opportunities in the area of international trade and production as most manufacturers around the world were looking to diversify the supply chain.

“NEPZA is prepared to cash in on the prevailing business environment by developing robust actionable plans to reposition the country’s free zone for maximum investor attraction and retention in post COVID-19 and Brexit era.

“NEPZA has identified two major opportunities presented by COVID-19: the first is inward production, involving a change in sectorial focus in favour of agro-allied and healthcare.

“The second is in the global and regional value and supply chain, involving manufacturing and supply of capital goods to other African countries,’’ Dawuk said.

He listed some barriers negating efforts in attracting investors to include periodic interference of other government agencies in free zone operations.

Others he said were overtly stringent or impromptu government policies and outdated legal framework (over twenty years old).

Dawuk expressed optimism that the sector would be stabilised to become the country’s economic powerhouse soon.

He added that government was genuinely working toward using the sector to trigger the economy after months of docility caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

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