Business Hilights
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Beyond AfCFTA treaty, free trade must be within mutual agreements—IMF

Contrary to analysts’ expectations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has supported Nigeria’s border closure with some neighbouring countries, saying beyond any kind of international treaties, the sovereignty of every nation is determined by its internal policies.

Otherwise, the Director of the African Department at the IMF, Mr Abebe Selassie while responding weekend on the validity of Nigeria shutting it borders upon ECOWAS and AfCFTA treaties, said although free trade was critical to economic growth of the continent, it must be legal and in line with agreements.

Business Hilights recalls that the Nigerian Government had given its neighbours conditions to meet before it could consider reopening the borders including stoppage of imports of Nigeria-bound cargoes and goods as that amounts to economic sabotage.

Selassie observed that “On the border closure in Nigeria which has been impacting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the action reflects concerns about smuggling that has been taking place,” arguing that “It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate.”

Though the IMF chief expressed hopes of faster resolution of the impasse, he said “We are very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is posing.

However, he was quick to add that “If the border closure is to be sustained for a long time, it will definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger which, of course, rely quite extensively on the big brother next door”.

Whereas the first explanation of the Federal Government on border closure was due to a joint exercise between the Customs and Immigration Service, latest narrative from the same government is that border closure was to curb smuggling.

Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had said that the borders were closed to curb illegal trading activities by Nigeria’s neighbours in West Africa.