Ugo Nzeh, a trader at DEI DEI INTERNATIONAL market Abuja
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in Central China, in December last year, some factories in China have remained closed, while workers have been forced to stay out of work as part of attempts by authorities to curtail the spread of the virus.
As China’s economy struggles with dealing with the virus, the economies of other countries are also being affected, directly or indirectly, by the pandemic.
In South Africa, where almost 90 per cent of harvested shrimps was exported to China, fishermen lamented the heavy decline in exports and how it has affected their livelihoods, according to a BBC documentary.
Nigeria is not exempted by this decline in trade with China due to the coronavirus.
Austin Okafor, a Nigerian trader at DEI DEI timber market in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, lamented the effect of the outbreak on his business.
Mr Okafor, an Abuja based contractor and an importer of building materials, such as nails, (ceiling) sheets and other building equipment which he imports from China, told PREMIUM TIMES that for now, goods available in his warehouse are products he had already purchased, months before the outbreak.
He also lamented that the prices of products have already increased.
”Most of the Chinese companies we buy our products from have already closed down,” he said.
“Many of the products we are selling and the ones that are coming from ports are the ones we have already bought before the outbreak.
”The outbreak has affected those that get contacts from government and (private) bodies. Prices have also gone up,” he said.
”We sell a carton of nails N11,800 before the outbreak. Now, we sell them for N13,000, We also used to sell a bundle of ceiling sheet for N11,400 before. Now, we sell for N13,500.
He added that, ”The number of goods in the market has reduced, and the ones that (we) are selling are the ones that (we had) already bought before the outbreak.”
China remains Nigeria’s biggest source of imports. About N1.99 trillion worth of goods were imported from the Asian country in the first half of 2019, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Nigeria imports different kinds of goods ranging from personal effects to industrial machinery and raw materials.
Also, Nigeria offers Chinese companies a diverse range of lucrative commercial and trade opportunities, as part of its attractive bilateral trade treaty between the two nations. As of May 2019, Chinese companies had invested $20 billion in over 150 firms in Nigeria.
Nigerian entrepreneurs make regular commercial pilgrimages to Chinese manufacturing cities like Guangzhou to buy bulk purchases at cheap prices.
According to data from the NBS, Nigeria’s imports from China hit ₦1.99 trillion in the first half of 2019. The country almost doubled total imports from China, rising by 88 per cent compared to the first half of 2018.
Source: PREMIUM TIMES