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Paint makers worry over Africa free trade agreement

The last is yet to be heard about Nigeria’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and its brutal effects on the manufacturing sector, as paint makers are worried that the new deal could worsen their plight.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the landmark agreement at the African Union (AU) summit in Niger two months ago. CFTA is expected to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businessmen and investments.

But senior officials of the Paint Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMA) said Nigeria would become a dumping ground for all sorts of paints. PMA is a sub-sector of the chemicals and pharmaceutical groups of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

PMA chairman, Mr. Abimbolu Babatunde, who spoke ahead of this year’s coating show in Lagos, noted that the agreement would be a threat to producers. He urged the government to fix the power and transport sectors as well as tackle security challenges in the country.

To date, Nigeria’s paint industry has an investment of over N50 billion with a production capacity of 200 million litres of assorted paints yearly. The use of local paints has been projected to reach an all-time high of 1.02 billion litres by 2025.

Babatunde admitted that Nigeria couldn’t do without signing the treaty. He disclosed that the association has put in place modalities to prepare manufacturers on future developments such as raw materials, phase-out of lead content in paints, and improving quality of their products to meet global standards.

According to him, the major challenges facing members over the years include adulteration and faking of premium brands of their products, which has negatively affected their volumes and profitability as well as return on investments.

Immediate past PMA chairman, Mr. Rotimi Aluko, who doubles as PMA coatings show planning committee chair, called on the government to reduce the cost of doing business in the country. He said the cost in Nigeria is one of the highest in Africa.

On the issue of adulteration and proliferation chemicals, Babatunde disclosed that MAN has waded into the matter, and liaising with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to proffer a lasting solution.

Aluko also revealed that the association is educating small-scale chemical sellers on the need to deal with only qualified chemists and to adopt health as well as safety measures.

He said the government agencies should be alive to its duties on regulating chemical imports and sale in Nigeria.

PMA Executive Secretary, Mr. Jude Maduka stated that the association last year reviewed paints standards with the SON. He advised the government to develop local raw materials for the paint industry.



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