The fund, however, noted that there was no problem with Nigeria’s decision to close its borders.

But it wants the government to resolve the menace quickly to enable free and comfortable trade.

The Director of the African Department at the IMF, Abebe Selassie this while speaking on the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington D.C.

According to him, although free trade was critical to the economic growth of the continent, it must be legal and in line with agreements.

He said, “On the border closure in Nigeria which has been impacting Benin and Niger, our understanding is that the action reflects concerns about smuggling that has been taking place,” adding that “It is about illegal trade, which is not what you want to facilitate. We are very hopeful that discussions will resolve the challenges that this illegal trade is posing.”

Mr Selassie further said, “If the border closure is to be sustained for a long time, it will definitely have an impact on Benin and Niger which, of course, rely quite extensively on the big brother next door.”

Background

Since August 20, 2019, Nigeria has closed its borders with some of its neighbouring West African countries.

Borders in four geopolitical zones across the country, including South-South, South-West, North-Central and North-West have been closed.

The government took this decision in an attempt to stop what it calls smuggling activities at its borders.