The Norwegian Seafood Council has protested Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s inclusion of stockfish in the list of banned goods to be imported into the country. The council urged CBN to reconsider the policy as it has a grave implication of not only affecting the bilateral trade between Norway and Nigeria, but also aggravate the dwindling protein requirements of the citizens of the country. The council recounted that Stockfish is not found in Nigerian waters and will in no way affect the local content policy of the country.
Meanwhile The Stock-fish Dealers Association have urged the Federal Government to grant importers of Stock-fish, access to the Foreign Exchange (FOREX). The group made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a two-day Seafood Seminar in Lagos. Chairman of the association, Mr Gregory Ilobinso, said access to FOREX ensures ease in conducting their businesses. “Stock-fish is one of 43 products that cannot access foreign exchange. “If importers want to bring in Stock-fish, then we have to have an approved ‘Form M’ from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with evidence of U.S. dollars to finance the import. It takes from six months to one year to get a Form M approved, and because of this, we cannot stock up the product. “That is why we are appealing to the Federal Government to allow us access to FOREX to enable us import Stock-fish.
At a two-day seafood seminar in Lagos, the Minister of Fisheries and Seafood, Norway, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, said despite the popularity of Stockfish in Nigeria, it does not pose a threat to the encouragement of an increased local production of fish in Nigeria as the imported volume is relatively low. He said that importation of stockfish does not involve repatriation of a lot of foreign currency as compared to other items on the list. He said “Stockfish and stockfish heads are unique products produced in a unique environment in Norway in order to give it the very special and sought-after taste. We urge the Nigerian government to reconsider its policy in order to boost the bilateral trade between the two countries” he added
Also, Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria Knut Eiliu Lein said that since Stockfish was first imported to Nigeria in the 1890s it has remained an important part of the Nigerian cuisine, and wondered why the government would allow the policy deny it’s citizens such important part of their protein requirements. He said “Let me also say here that Stockfish heads are currently more or less the most affordable Fish proteins for majority of Nigerians in the low-income bracket. Many livelihoods depend on stockfish trade as both men and women are involved in the sales in all the Nigerian markets.
” I understand that Nigerian government should protect the growing fish industry but while building the domestic capacity, the government also should focus on removing challenges to trade that benefits the Norwegians and Nigerians” he added. Also speaking, the Chairman, 1st Premier Stockfish Importers Association, Ilobinso Gregory said that considering stockfish needed in the country cannot be grown and processed in Nigeria, there is need to sustain its import.
He advised that rather than ban stockfish, government should even reduce the the current duty on importation of stockfish to 10 per cent, which will also lead to reduction in prices of the good to the final consumer. Recall that, in 2015 the CBN first placed some 42 items on a list not valid for Foreign Exchange Window in Nigeria. In that list imported pelagic fish and stockfish were not included; however, fish was later included, which automatically affected stockfish and stockfish heads import into Nigeria.- Businessnewsreports