The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has supported the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to close its entire land borders due to widespread illegal trafficking of contraband.
This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday, October 19, by the IMF Director of African Department, Abebe Selassie at a media briefing during the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington.
This was in response to a media question on whether the closure negates the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Selassie said although free trade was critical to economic growth of the continent, it must be legal and in line with agreements.
”On the border closure in Nigeria which has been impacting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the action reflects concerns about smuggling that has been taking place.
“It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate,’’ Selassie said.
He said the IMF was hoping for a speedy resolution of the issues as the action was already taking a toll on the economies of the country’s neighbours.
“We are very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is posing.
“If the border closure is to be sustained for a long time, it will definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger which, of course, rely quite extensively on the big brother next door,’’ he said.