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Alex Okoh: Nigeria can emulate China in leveraging free trade zones to boost FDI

Alex Okoh, BPE DG Alex Okoh, BPE DG

Alex Okoh, the director-general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), says Nigeria can emulate China in leveraging free trade zones (FTZs) to boost foreign direct investments (FDI).

A free-trade zone is a class of special economic zone located in a geographic area where goods may be imported, stored, handled, manufactured, or reconfigured and re-exported under specific customs regulation and generally not subject to customs duty.

In a statement on Monday, Amina Tukur Othman, head of public communications for BPE, said Okoh spoke at the sidelines of the concession of the Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) after a meeting with Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the state governor.

The KFTZ is to be executed by the BPE.

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Okoh said Nigeria’s free trade zones, if well harnessed, could bring in foreign direct investment and manufacturing inflows like China.

The BPE DG explained that in 2006 alone, FTZs accounted for 68 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) of about $1.5 trillion.

According to him, 87 percent of China’s exports are from FTZs while the national level zones attract $9.2 billion in FDI and provide access to more advanced technology, thereby boosting technological progress.

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“Giving an insight into the planned reform of the Kano FTZ, Okoh maintained that it would be a Property Holding Company (PropCo) with the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), representing the Federal Government as the owner and regulator as well as guarantor of the concession,” the statement reads.

“He added that the Concessionaire would be responsible for the rehabilitation, operation and management of the FTZs.”

In March, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the reappointment of Okoh as BPE DG for another four years.

Okoh was first appointed the director-general of the BPE on April 13, 2017.

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Before his appointment, he was the managing partner of Ashford & McGuire Consulting Ltd, an indigenous management consulting firm.

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