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CBN justifies the foreign exchange restriction on stockfish imports

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that the importation ban on stockfish was put in place to protect foreign exchange (FX), revive the domestic fishing industry, and increase job creation.

This comes after the Norwegian Seafood Council made public the fact that stockfish imports from Norway to Nigeria fell by 5.9% in 2022, from N3.4 billion in 2021 to N3.2 billion.

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According to the Council, 10,740 metric tons of stockfish, which include the head and body, were imported into the nation in 2022, trailing the imports of 14,997 and 13,845 metric tons of mackerel and herrings, respectively.

Speaking at the recently concluded Norwegian Seafood Seminar in Lagos, the CBN’s Director of Trade and Exchange Department, Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, explained that due to the country’s current lack of foreign currency, stockfish had to be added to the list of 43 products that are prohibited from accessing foreign exchange.

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Nnaji, who was represented by Mrs. Bukola Adenubi, a representative of the apex bank, added that the action was also intended to increase Nigerians’ capacity for local fishing with a view to exporting aquatic products.

In order to preserve its limited foreign currency, the CBN in 2015 prohibited access to 43 products, including stockfish.

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“The restriction’s goals are to preserve foreign exchange, revive home industries, and increase job creation. Be aware that the limitation affects access to FX rather than imports.

The Federal Government was urged to reconsider removing stockfish from the list by Mr. Trond Kostveit, Director Africa of the Norwegian Seafood Council. He stated: “We started the process three years ago to see if it is possible to delist stockfish from foreign exchange ban because there are many good arguments why the product should not be on the list.

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“Stockfish is now relatively expensive in local markets, especially for consumers, due to the FX prohibition.

“Stockfish imports are suffering as a result of the price of obtaining foreign exchange on the black market. Stockfish heads are the only source of protein for consumers.

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If we can gain access to the official exchange rate, we can lower the price of fish for consumers, according to Kostveit.

He said Nigerian fish species were not in competition with Norway.

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Although the product is not a threat to Nigerian aquaculture, we realize that the prohibition is intended to support local aquaculture output.

“When we tried to argue that stockfish has grown to be such a crucial component of the Nigerian diet and that it is crucial that we make it more affordable.

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“So, we will continue this appeal and hopefully, we can see that soon, it is possible to delist stockfish from the foreign exchange ban,” he said.

 

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