The Managing Director, Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Mr Emmanuel Jime, has urged investors to take advantage of incentives offered at the free trade zones by the federal government and reduce their operating costs.

The NEPZA boss gave the advice during the June breakfast meeting of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), on Wednesday in Lagos.

Jime, represented by Mr Richard Obiano, a director in the organisation, spoke on: Investment Opportunities in Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones.

According to him, about 30 per cent could be removed from the operating costs of companies wishing to operate in EPZs in Nigeria, due to the numerous incentives created by government.

He said companies operating in the zones were exempted from paying taxes and levies to the federal, state and local governments, and also exempted from import duties on raw materials and other intermediate inputs.

Jime explained that up to 100 per cent foreign ownership of business was permitted; and foreign managers and qualified personnel may be employed by companies in the zones.

“While the expatriate quota in the country is designed to prevent the indiscriminate employment of expatriates, where there are qualified Nigerians to occupy chosen positions, there is a liberalised regime for employment of expatriates in EPZs.

“This is because the NEPZA Regulations stipulate that all approved enterprises shall be exempted from being subject to expatriate quotas,” he said.

According to him, the government provides all basic infrastructures ranging from electricity, water, roads, land for companies operating in the zones.

He said the incentives were evolved to attract investments, job creation, export promotion and knowledge transfer into the country.

Jime said companies in agriculture, solid mineral, manufacturing, oil and gas, banking and finance, real estate, pharmaceutical and healthcare could transfer their operations to the zones.

He said the country currently had about 37 free trade zones and industrial parks in various stages of development across the country.

Otunba Oĺuwatoyin Akomolafe, President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), said Free Trade Zones were a veritable tool to fast track industrialisation and sustainable economic development.

“The reason for this is not far-fetched. Investors all over the world are looking for jurisdictions where they would save cost and maximise returns on investment.

“The Free Trade Zone offers this opportunity, it has been identified as investors’ haven with attractive incentives and enabling environment,” he said.

Akomolafe noted that the idea of free trade zone was meant to encourage world trade, limit trade restriction and promote employment.

He urged the government to provide critical infrastructures that would lead to the effective functioning of more free trade zones in the country.

Akomolafe noted that doing that would boost industrialisation, job creation, skills upgrade, promotion of exports and economic development.

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