Plastics, pharmaceuticals and sugar worth $10.98bn were imported into Nigeria between 2020 and 2021, according to data from the International Trade Centre.
Within the time under review, the nation spent $1.82bn on sugar products, $4.21bn on pharmaceutical products, and $4.95bn on plastic products.
Countries from which these products came from included: China, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, India, United States of America, India, Netherlands, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, and Switzerland, among others.
According to the ITC, sugars and sugar confectionery products that were imported included cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose; chemically pure lactose, maltose, glucose and fructose; sugar syrups; artificial honey; caramel; molasses; sugar confectionery not containing cocoa, including white chocolate.
Pharmaceutical products included: dried glands and other organs for organo-therapeutic uses; extracts of glands or other organs or their secretions, for organo-therapeutic uses; heparin and its salts; other human or animal substances prepared for therapeutic or prophylactic uses; human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excluding yeasts), among others.
Plastics products imported included: polymers of ethylene in primary forms; silicones in primary forms; petroleum resins; cellulose and its chemical derivatives; waste, parings, and scrap, of plastics; tubes, pipes, and hoses, and fittings, among others.
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It also included baths, shower-baths, sinks, washbasins, bidets, lavatory pans, seats, and covers; flushing cisterns and similar sanitary ware, of plastics; articles for the conveyance or packaging of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps, and other closures, of plastics; tableware, kitchenware, other household articles, and toilet articles, of plastics (excluding baths, shower-baths, washbasins, bidets, lavatory pans, seats and covers, flushing cisterns and similar sanitary ware), among others.
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose are on the nation’s list of prohibited or restricted imports. Kitchen utensils, plastic and rubber products, polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers, and sugar are part of the items which are ineligible to access foreign exchange directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Based on a CBN move, only BUA Sugar Refinery Ltd, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, and Golden Sugar Company can import sugar into the nation.
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In an earlier interview with The PUNCH, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, National Sugar Development Council, Mr Zacch Adedeji, had said the nation was spending heavily on the importation of refined sugar, importing about 1.7 million metric tons.
He said, “Currently, the demand for sugar in Nigeria is around 1.7 million metric tonnes annually and this comes from two main sectors: the food and drink manufacturing and retail markets.
“It will interest you to know that the sugar sector in Nigeria can generate massive jobs in Kwara, Kogi, Adamawa, Niger, Oyo, Ondo, and Nasarawa states. Given that each 100 hectares of sugar cane plantation can employ up to 20 workers, it is conceivable that the sugar sector can support, on a sustainable basis, up to hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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“Secondly, with a fully self-sufficient sugar sector, the country can preserve over $500m of forex spent on importation of raw sugar annually. And the government can save over $5bn of foreign exchange if self-sufficiency is attained.”