When a delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vuong Dinh, visited Nigeria, some people thought that the third largest rice exporter in the world had visited the nation to plead with the Federal Government to open its borders, at least to help its major benefactor (Seme border).
But the five-man delegate visited the country to negotiate trade terms between both countries.
On Tuesday, Hue and his team met the National Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomshole to lobby Nigeria to import its rice at discounted rates.
Hue also stated that his country seeks to strengthen relations with Nigeria through cultural and sports exchanges. The major agricultural items which the Vietnamese made cases for were rice importation, the exportation of cashew nuts, seafood, leather shoes and textiles.
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The plan was to meet Oshiomole before meeting Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo to present similar demands.
However, reacting to the demands, Oshiomhole stated that Nigeria would not accept such demands from Vietnam, advising the country to rather secure land and invest in rice production in Nigeria.
The ruling party’s Chairman insisted that Nigeria would no longer be a dumping ground for unwanted chemicals and spoilt products, stressing that the nation’s borders would remain closed until neighbouring countries learn to respect the rule of fair trade.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Oshiomhole said, “Nigerians should unanimously back the decision of the federal government to close the border until our neighbours try to respect the laws of fair and free trade. Nigeria must not and can’t be a dumping ground for imported food, imported rice and other smuggled chemicals and drugs from other countries.
“I think this is one policy that Nigerians across the party divide, across primordial sentiments, should salute the courage of President Muhammadu Buhari in closing down the borders.
“… We must close the borders, even if we do it for two, three years, it doesn’t matter. So that our neighbours will begin to respect the rules of international engagement and trade.”
How Vietnam’s demands may affect cashew and cocoa exporters
Nigeria largely exports agricultural produce to Vietnam, as the latest move suggests, the latter’s delegate must have come to Nigeria with some trade reciprocity deals.
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria exported N13 billion worth of cashew nuts and raw cocoa beans to Vietnam in just three months (April – June 2019).
Meanwhile, according to World export data, Vietnam is currently the third-largest exporter of rice in the world. In 2018 alone, Vietnam exported $2.2 billion worth of rice across various countries.
The imbalanced trade romance may cause problems in Nigeria’s agricultural sector if not properly handled. As earlier analysed, Nigeria exports large volumes of cashew nuts and cocoa to Vietnam, and any disappointing outcome may set the two countries at loggerheads and this may dampen trade for exporters of these products.
Though the Vietnamese delegates have met with the Vice President, the outcome may not be different from what is currently obtainable. The government has repeatedly stated its resolve to leave the borders shut until the neighbouring countries are ready to enter a comprehensive dialogue with Nigeria.
It may interest one to know that Benin Republic, whose economy is negatively affected by the closure of Nigerian borders, is the 6th largest importer of rice in the world. Note that Benin borders Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Togo by land and Ghana by sea.
In 2018 alone, Benin Republic imported $930.5 million worth of rice. This represents 3.9% of global rice import. Vietnam’s rice export to Benin is set to suffer a huge setback, and the government has acted quickly by approaching Nigeria in a trade romance.
Ghana’s lamentation and ECOWAS frustration
As earlier stated, Nigeria shares no border with Ghana, however, the country borders Benin Republic by Sea. This implies that the current border closure is indirectly affecting a large chunk of Ghanaian exports to Benin Republic.
In an earlier article, Nairametrics revealed how Ghanaian Manufacturer of Alomo Bitters, Kasapreko Company Limited, disclosed that it had lost about $2 million in revenue as a result of the closure of Nigerian borders.
Following this, Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo disclosed on Tuesday that the country is still hopeful that talks between his country and Nigeria over the closure of the Nigerian land borders would yield a positive result.
The Ghanaian President was quoted as saying, “We are about to enter a delicate period in the ECOWAS journey looking ahead of the possibility of a single currency and trying to forge greater integration among our economies and at the same time have important security and other issues which confront us.
“We have this business of the closure of the Benin border, which seems to some people to be a big blow to the ECOWAS project.”