EU drags Nigeria to WTO over milk restriction policy


The European Union has written a letter to the World Trade Organisation to complain about the milk and dairy restriction policy of Nigeria.

Director-General, World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed this during her visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

The CBN in July 2019 included milk and dairy products on its list of items not eligible for foreign exchange.

This led to a restriction in the importation of milk into Nigeria, as the commodity was now grouped among agro-products such as tomatoes, rice, etc.

Okonjo-Iweala told the CBN that the WTO would look into the complaint presented to it by the EU, as she encouraged Nigeria to take advantage of global trade opportunities being a member of the WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala said, “You talked about protecting our industries and I’ll say that WTO has trade remedies which can help us. Without banning things, we can protect our industries against dumping.

“I understand that Nigeria is trying to establish a trade remedy already, and I strongly support that to help our industries to grow. Some of the issues I raised yesterday, you need not to be upset. But as DG, WTO I have to raise the issue.”

She added, “We have a complaint against Nigeria by the EU about the violation of balance of payment agreement with respect to trying to protect the dairy industry and they feel that this is not the right instrument. So as DG, WTO, I have to make this known.

“This is an issue you said you will like to engage on in a little more detail so we can discuss later on how to go about it.”

Responding, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, insisted that Nigeria had to protect its industries in the diary and milk production sector, explaining that the import procedure for dairy products had dragged on for about six years.

He said, “We held a meeting about six years ago, and I said Nigerians have potential in cattle and others, so let us see what can be done.

“Two years ago, we started again and we said we are going to start a programme where we are going to place on foreign exchange registration for those who want to import dairy into Nigeria.”

Emefiele added, “Six (firms) of them came on board, the TG Halla and a host of others at a meeting in next door. What did they say? They said governor you have been putting pressure on us to invest locally in dairy industry.

“What do you do to those who are not doing anything about this? We then had a decision that those who are not embracing our backward integration programme in doing nothing should be restricted.”

The CBN boss stated that the restriction was then enforced, stressing that some firms that had been importing milk into Nigeria for decades failed to comply with the backward integration move of the government.


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