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Dollar scarcity: Importers Explore Timber, Solid Minerals Export

Due to the foreign exchange scarcity and the declining value of the naira, many Nigerian importers have shifted their focus to the export trade, mainly timber and solid minerals.

The President of the Shippers Association of Lagos State, Mr. Jonathan Nicol, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, said the development arose due to the current unprofitable nature of importation business.


He said, “What many of us are simply doing is going into some aspects of export, to cover for the period of lull in imports. There was a time when many importers were moving into the timber trade; that is the exportation of untreated wood.

“They invested so much in the purchase of untreated logs, which were being exported until the customs stepped in. You know the exportation of untreated wood is prohibited in Nigeria. Those involved were caught and the comptroller-general of Customs warned them. After that incident, I expect things would be slow in that area.”

Nicol added that the solid mineral sector was another area of interest for importers, some of whom had already applied for prospecting licences.

He described the development as a positive one for Nigeria, adding that there was the likelihood that some members might not return to the importation business any more.

“This is a good thing for the country, although now the whole scenario looks dark, when we are able to get our feet on the ground, some of us might just remain exporters.  At least, this way, we would be kept in business continuously,” Nicol said.

Last month, the Customs Area Comptroller of the Tin-Can Island Command, Mr. Yusuf Bashar, had held a stakeholders forum with exporters to show the difference between treated and untreated wood products.

He had advised exporters to ensure that only exportable wood products were brought into the port, adding that anything short of what the law permitted would be confiscated.

Officials of the Federal Environment Protection Agency were also involved by the command as resource persons in the seminar.

Bashar said, “The need for the campaign became imperative due to the seeming confusion emanating from the export of wood products, as almost every container with wood export despite the status is considered contraband by the uninformed.

“So, we met exporters of wood products, freight forwarders, our own Customs personnel and interested members of the public to let them know the categories of wood that are lawfully exportable.”

He expressed confidence that with improved communication, there would be a higher level of compliance, adding that unprocessed wood was banned from export.

At the meeting with stakeholders, Bashar exhibited samples of processed, semi processed and unprocessed wood products.
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