The Director of the African Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Abebe Selassie, appears to have backed the closure of Nigeria’s land borders to its neighbours because illegal trade “is not what you want to facilitate.”
Concise News learned that Selassie made this known at a media briefing on the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had, on Wednesday, 16 October, said the borders were closed to curb illegal trading activities by Nigeria’s neighbours.
Ahmed said the closure would remain in force until the country secured the commitment of its neighbours to trade agreements and treaties signed with them.
The IMF chief, it was learned, was responding to a question on weather the closure negates the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said although free trade was critical to economic growth of the continent, it must be legal and in line with agreements.
“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,” he said.
“It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate,.”
He said that the IMF was hoping for a speedy resolution of the issues as the action was already taking a toll on the economies of the neigbouring countries.
“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,” he said.
Head of the Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali, had recently said that the borders would be reopened after an agreement with neighbouring countries on the kind of goods that should enter and exit Africa’s most populous nation.