Norway attributes rise in cost of stockfish in Nigeria to forex ban
The Norwegian ambassador to Nigeria on Friday blamed the rising cost of stockfish in Nigeria on the inclusion of stockfish on the forex ban list.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has listed pelagic fish and stockfish among 44 items not valid for the exchange window.
Lein told NAN on the sidelines of a two-day seafood seminar in Port Harcourt that the ban had led to an increase in the cost of stockfish in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria should reconsider its refusal of forex on imports of stockfish because seafood is very nutritious and is now part of the local delicacy.
âNorway does not compete with Nigeria in the production of stockfish and we have raised two points about this argument with Nigerian government officials.
âOne is that Norway understands that Nigeria needs to develop its own fishing industry, which Norway is ready to help Nigeria achieve.
âBut today’s topic is stockfish, a very special product that is very popular in Nigeria and cannot be produced here due to the climate.
“So our argument is that we want to work with the federal government to develop our business and at the same time help the Nigerian fishing industry to develop,” he said.
Lein said the Norwegian government has expressed willingness to share decades of experience in Atlantic fish farming and fishing and to build the capacity of local fish farmers.
The envoy said the two countries should work closely together to ensure mutually beneficial relations.
âThus, we expect the Nigerian authorities to ask for our help and remove barriers to trade in stockfish in the country.
âThe lack of access to forex and the challenges of issuing letters of credit have taken a lot out of importers and exporters from the trade, blamed on the expensive forex in Nigeria.
“At the end of the day, those who suffer are the Nigerian consumers of stockfish who buy the item at a higher price than they should have,” he lamented.
Lein blamed the trade imbalance between the two countries on Nigeria’s importation of refined petroleum products from Norway, after exporting crude oil to the country.
In his welcome speech, Mr. Trond Kostveit, Director for Africa of the Norwegian Seafood Council, said the council organized the program to exchange ideas with local industry players.
Kostveit said residents of Port Harcourt were among the country’s largest consumers of stockfish, hence the decision to partner with importers and exporters from Rivers.
âWe want to make sure the fish gets to consumers in town very quickly in the face of general concerns about the high price of stockfish.
âStockfish is not a luxury item but an important source of nutritional food for everyone,â he added.
Speaking, Rivers Deputy Governor Dr Ipalibo Banigo said the state government is ready to partner with the Norwegian Seafood Council to develop the state’s seafood industry.
She said the state, blessed with a large number of rivers and streams, has a huge number of seafood that could be tapped to boost income.
âSo Rivers is ready to do business with willing investors. We have put in place laws to improve our agricultural sector in order to increase state revenues, âBanigo said.