FG bans importation of refined sugar from free trade zones

The federal government has prohibited the importation of refined sugar and its derivatives from the country’s free trade zones (FTZs).

This development follows a dispute among Dangote Industries Limited, BUA Group, and Flour Mills of Nigeria.

In a joint letter to Niyi Adebayo, minister of industry, trade and investment, Dangote Industries Limited and Flour Mills of Nigeria had claimed that BUA’s sugar refinery poses a threat to the local sugar industry and undermines the Nigerian sugar master plan (NSMP).

However, BUA fired back, saying Dangote and John Coumantaros, chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, are calling to question the “authority of the president’s power and the diligence of the trade ministry.

The minister issued the ban in order to protect national interest and achieve the goals of the NSMP, a policy road map for sugar production.

This was made known in a letter by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to one of the terminal operators at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC), Apapa, Lagos.

The letter, dated April 8, was signed by Buba Jubril on behalf of the port manager, Lagos Ports Complex.

“It has recently come to our notice that due to the recent location of a sugar refinery in a free trade zone, refined sugar is being imported into the Nigerian Customs territory under the concession granted to enterprises in the free trade zones to export 100 percent of their output to the Nigerian Customs territory, and this is real potential threat to the goals of the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP),” the letter read.

“The Nigeria sugar industry is governed by the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP). The NSMP provides a framework for motivating investment in the local production of refined sugar by securing the Nigerian sugar market for investors in the backward integration program (BIP).

“Your terminal is hereby informed by this letter that, in order to protect our national interest and ensure the returns in the federal government’s investment in the NSMP are realised, and in line with extant laws and regulations of the federal government of Nigeria, importation of refined sugar and all other sugar derivatives from the free trade zones into the Nigerian Customs territory are here prohibited by the honourable minister, ministry of industry, trade and investment.

“In view of the above, your terminals are by this letter directed to ensure strict compliance with this directive. Please accept as always the assurances of our esteemed regards.”

On April 15, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it would include sugar and wheat on the list of import items banned from accessing foreign exchange (FX).

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