By G9ija

The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has raised the alarm over Nigeria’s growing trade deficit, which stood at N3 trillion in the third quarter (Q3) of last year.

The Chamber said the huge trade deficit was a reflection of the fact that the country has not rigorously implemented its policies to truly consume and produce what it consumes.

Speaking with The Nation, NACCIMA Director-General Amb Ayo Olukanni said from the beginning of last year, the Chamber had at every opportunity raised alarm about Nigeria’s growing trade deficit.

“This was as we observed the growing gap between import and export, which was also reflected in the pressure on the Naira and loss of its value in the Foreign Exchange (forex) market,” he said

The NACCIMA chief, therefore, said this year, Nigeria must rigorously pursue policies especially as envisioned in the 2022 Budget to reduce importation and improve on her non-oil export.

He said perhaps more importantly, in addition to dealing with the nation’s well known problem of infrastructure across the country, it must empower local industries to significantly improve their productive capacity to meet local needs.

“In this respect, our new national policies on Small and Medium (SMEs), which include micro enterprises, deserve attention and more support this year 2022. In addition to all of these, our culture of love for foreign goods must also be curbed,” Amb Olukanni said.

According to him, Nigeria has the capacity to produce most of what it imports. “We should, therefore, put a stop to importation of such categories of goods such as textile, canned food and drinks etc. Government must also provide the enabling environment for our industries to rise to the occasion,” he admonished.

Olukanni said NACCIMA is of the firm opinion that members of the Chambers movement across the country are credible partners that can help improve the nation’s local productive capacities.

“We, therefore, call on state governments to work with city and state Chambers in their jurisdiction to ensure that the private sector at the sub-national level truly serves as a platform to increase local production.

“The objective should be to reduce importation of goods as we concertedly work to reduce and even end our trade deficit,” he said, noting that “year 2022 is an opportunity for us to truly walk the talk as a less import dependent country.”