At a press conference during the 2023 World Bank/IMF Spring Meeting in Washington DC, World Bank Group President David Malpass called on incoming Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to tackle trade protection that blocks importation, address dual exchange rates, and diversify the economy. Malpass noted that Nigeria’s growth rate was projected to be 3.3% in 2022 and 2.8% in 2023 according to the World Bank’s forecast. He urged President-elect Tinubu to tackle these issues in order to improve the economy. The World Bank is working hard within Nigeria but also working to try to have an economic system that can be more productive, and that means Nigeria has trade protection that blocks market development. They have a dual exchange rate that is very expensive for the people of Nigeria to maintain that dual exchange rate system. They have high inflation and not enough diversification of the economy to really make sufficient progress.”The World Bank had repeatedly argued that In Nigeria, many policies limit trade. In its recent publication on how Nigeria can harness trade to lift people out of poverty, it argued that throughout the past two decades, import bans, tariffs, and foreign exchange restrictions have all curbed the flow of goods into Nigeria.Analysts differ on trade protectionAnalysts however reacted to the comment by the World Bank chief, noting that Nigeria was on track. A Lagos-based, financial analyst and former Economist at United Bank for Africa Plc, Abiola Rasaq, said: “I do not agree that Nigeria has major trade protections that undermine its economic progress, and I stand to be corrected, as I believe Nigeria actually has very weak trade policies and the impact of that is perhaps exacerbated by the porous borders, courtesy of the inefficient and corrupt institutions that are supposedly responsible for maintaining the integrity of the borders.” Prof Uche Uwaleke, a professor of capital market, acknowledged the World Bank President’s opinion on Nigeria not diversifying its revenue base from oil as well as the high inflation rate. He argued, however, that the 43 export items restricted by CBN from access to forex were necessary. Uwaleke further said that the dual exchange rate was meant to conserve forex and protect external reserves. While these measures were beneficial, he noted that the multiple exchange rates can have a negative impact on foreign investments and suggested it should be discontinued.

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