EUROPEAN Union (EU) officials have reported Nigeria to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) complaining about the restrictions the country has placed on the importation of milk and other dairy products.
Annually, the EU produces about 160m tonnes of milk, of which about 21m tonnes are exported, with Nigeria being one of its key markets. Despite having a cattle population of 20m, Nigeria only produces 641,000 tonnes of milk, which is way short of the annual consumption figure of around 1m tonnes, leading the treasury spending between $1.2bn and $1.5bn a year on imports to bridge the gap.
With foreign exchange in short supply, last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) restricted the provision of hard currency for milk importation to six companies. These included including Nestle Nigeria, Dutch-owned FrieslandCampina, the local unit of the Coca Cola bottling company HBC Chi, Promasidor Nigeria and Denmark’s TG Arla Dairy Products.
Claiming that the restrictions inhibit fair trade, the EU has written to the WTO asking it to get Nigeria to open up its market. WTO director-general Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, revealed the details of the complaint when she visited the CBN yesterday.
She told the CBN that the WTO would look into the complaint presented to it by the EU, as she encouraged Nigeria to take advantage of global trade opportunities. Nigeria introduced the restrictions to help boost its domestic milk production.