Endurskoðun viðskiptastefnu Nígeríu
Nína Björk Jónsdóttir, varafastafulltrúi flutti yfirlýsingu á 5. endurskoðun á viðskiptastefnu Nígeríu sem haldin var í Alþjóðaviðskiptastofnunni (WTO) í Genf 13.-15. júní 2017. Fjallaði hún þar m.a. um erfiðleika sem íslenskir útflytjendur hafa orðið fyrir um nokkurt skeið vegna takmarkana sem stjórnvöld setja á gjaldeyrisviðskipti og vegna tollframkvæmdar sem hefur leitt til hruns í viðskiptum milli ríkjanna.
Nigeria TPR – Statement Iceland
Let me begin by thanking the Secretariat for the comprehensive report and the delegation of Nigeria for their efforts today and over the past months preparing for this trade policy review and their dedication to this process. We agree with you ambassador that trade is an engine for growth. We thank Nigeria for their important contributions here at the WTO. We recognize the challenges Nigeria has been facing and are encouraged by recent IMF forecast which indicate that Nigeria will come out of economic recession this year. Our thanks also go to the discussant for an excellent framing for this meeting.
Nigeria and Iceland have a strong and long lasting trade relationship. Nigeria has for decades been Iceland’s most important export market in Africa. The products we export to Nigeria are mostly dried fish, particularly dried fish heads.
Recently however, the exports to Nigeria have fallen significantly, which is a cause for great concern. In 2014, Nigeria was the 8th biggest exporting country for Iceland worldwide, with 2.5% of overall exports. But in 2016, Nigeria had dropped to 16th place, with only 1% of overall exports. In this period of just two years exports fell from about 130 million US dollars in 2014 to about 50 million US dollars in 2016. As Nigeria is the only market worldwide for dried fish heads, producers in Iceland have suffered seriously from this situation.
This dramatic drop is due to restrictions that continue to be imposed by Nigeria on foreign exchange and which have been discussed on many occasions in this house, now most recently in the Trade in Goods Council last April. These restrictions are causing damage both to Icelandic exporters as well as to Nigerian importers and consumers, as importers of fish products cannot buy foreign currency in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Markets. In addition, the import duty on fish heads was recently increased from 5% to 20%. According to approved fiscal policy measures in Nigeria, these duties were lowered to 10% in October last year. However, in practice, 20% duties are still levied on dried fish heads.
The Icelandic government has on several occasions drawn the attention of Nigeria to how the measures are negatively affecting our trade relations. Our previous Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade visited Nigeria last August to explore with her Nigerian counterpart how this issue could be brought under WTO principles. And only last week, the issue of duties and upliftment of import prices was discussed with customs authorities in Nigeria at a meeting in Abuja. We are hopeful that from now on, duties will be levied according to the "recommended duty rate for implementation", as it is called on the website of the Finance ministry, and that it will be levied on actual market prices as reflected on invoices.
The Icelandic delegation sent questions in advance to Nigeria to be addressed at this Trade policy review and we thank Nigeria for providing the answers last night. As we have not had much time to analyze the replies I can only give preliminary comments.
We welcome that Nigeria will review and possibly remove the ban for accessing foreign exchange for 41 goods and services, and we trust that importers of dried fish heads will be able to access foreign currency.
I would like to further ask Nigeria to explain working methods used by customs authorities to calculate import duties on fish products and why such calculations are not based on customs declarations? In the answer provided, Nigeria states that when there is sufficient reason to doubt the transaction value an uplifting is done. I would like to ask: Why is the transaction value so often doubted? It seems to be the rule rather than the exemption.
And finally, as regards Nigeria’s answer to whether Nigerian authorities have considered reducing import duties of fish heads, that stated Nigeria’s priority is to achieve self-sufficiency in food, I would like to underline that fish heads are a healthy, high-quality and affordable source of food, mainly consumed by the people with the lowest income.
Iceland looks forward to working with Nigeria on restoring our trade relations to their previous levels and we hope to strengthen and deepen our relationship even further. We urge Nigeria to refrain from imposing restriction measures against fish products and to exercise full transparency on any changes in Nigeria’s import regime. Iceland furthermore encourages Nigeria to respect her WTO obligations, including the obligation to notify the measures, and calls on Nigerian authorities not to introduce any further trade barriers.
Finally allow me to thank the Nigerian delegation and to wish you a very successful Trade Policy review and every success to the people of Nigeria.