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Norway blames rising cost of stockfish in Nigeria on forex ban

Norway Ambassador to Nigeria asks the FG to reconsider its forex denial on stockfish imports.

Stockfish seller in Oyingbo market, Lagos (Vanguard)

Mr Knut Lein, Norway Ambassador to Nigeria, on Friday, blamed the rising cost of stockfish in Nigeria on the inclusion of stockfish on the forex banned list.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 2015, listed pelagic fish and stockfish among 44 items not valid for Foreign Exchange Window.

Lein told NAN on the sidelines of a two-day seafood seminar in Port Harcourt, that the ban had led to inflated cost of stockfish in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria should reconsider its forex denial on stockfish imports as the seafood is highly nutritional and has become a part of the local delicacy.

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“Norway is not competing with Nigeria in stockfish production and we have raised two points to this argument with Nigerian government officials.

“One is that Norway understands that Nigeria needs to grow its own fish industry, to which Norway stands ready to assist Nigeria realise.

“But today’s topic is about stockfish, a very particular product which is enjoyed a lot in Nigeria and that cannot be produced here due to climate.

“So, our argument is that we want to work with the Federal Government to grow our trade and at the same time, provide assistance for the Nigerian fish industry to grow,” he said.

Lein said the Norwegian government had expressed willingness to share decades of experience in fish farming and Atlantic fishing and build capacity of local fish farmers.

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The envoy said that both countries had to work closely to ensure mutually beneficial relations.

“So, we are waiting on the Nigerian authorities to demand our assistance as well as remove barriers on the stockfish trade in the country.

“The lack of access to forex and challenges in issuing letters of credit has resulted to both importers and exporters losing a lot from the trade, blamed on the expensive forex in Nigeria.

“In the end, those suffering are the Nigerian consumers of stockfish who buy the item at higher prices than they should have,” he bemoaned.

Lein blamed the trade imbalance between both countries on Nigeria’s importation of refined petroleum products from Norway, after exporting crude oil to the country.

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In his address of welcome, Mr Trond Kostveit, Director of Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, said the council organised the programme to exchange ideas with local industry players.

Kostveit said that residents of Port Harcourt were among the highest consumers of stockfish in the country, hence the decision to partner with importers and exporters in Rivers.

“We want to make sure that the fish comes very quickly to consumers in the city in the face of general concerns over high price of stockfish.

“Stockfish is not a luxury product but an important nutritional food source for everyone,” he added.

Speaking, the Deputy Governor of Rivers, Dr Ipalibo Banigo said the state government is ready to partner with the Norwegian Seafood Council to develop the state’s seafood industry.

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She said the state blessed with large numbers of rivers and creeks, has an enormous number of seafood that could be harnessed to shore up revenue.

“So, Rivers is open to doing business with willing investors. We have put laws to improve our agric sector to boost revenue of the state,” Banigo said.

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