Seme Border Sees 90% Decline in Trade Activity Due to CFA Fluctuations

The Seme Border, a vital trade link between Nigeria and its neighboring countries, has reported a 90% decline in trade activity due to the volatile fluctuations in the CFA franc against the Nigerian naira.

Licensed customs agents operating at the border have voiced concerns over the adverse impact of currency instability on cross-border trade.

In a conversation with the media in Lagos, Mr. Godon Ogonnanya, the Special Adviser to the President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, Seme Chapter, shed light on the drastic reduction in trade activities at the border post.

Ogonnanya explained the pivotal role of the CFA franc in facilitating trade transactions, saying the border’s bustling activities were closely tied to the relative strength of the CFA against the naira.

According to Ogonnanya, trade activities thrived at the Seme Border when the CFA franc was weaker compared to the naira.

However, the fluctuating nature of the CFA exchange rate has led to uncertainty and instability in trade transactions, causing a significant downturn in business operations at the border.

“The CFA rate is the reason activities are low here. In those days when the CFA was a little bit down, activities were much there but now that the rate has gone up, it is affecting the business,” Ogonnanya explained.

The unpredictability of the CFA exchange rate has added complexity to trade operations, with importers facing challenges in budgeting and planning due to sudden shifts in currency values.

Ogonnanya highlighted the cascading effects of currency fluctuations, wherein importers incur additional costs as the value of the CFA rises against the naira during the clearance process.

Despite the significant drop in trade activity, Ogonnanya expressed optimism that the situation would gradually improve at the border.

He attributed his optimism to the recent policy interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which have led to the stabilization of the naira and restored confidence among traders.

In addition to currency-related challenges, customs agents cited discrepancies in clearance procedures between Cotonou Port and the Seme Border as a contributing factor to the decline in trade.

Importers face additional costs and complexities in clearing goods at both locations, discouraging trade activities and leading to a substantial decrease in business volume.

The decline in trade activity at the Seme Border underscores the urgent need for policy measures to address currency volatility and streamline trade processes.

As stakeholders navigate these challenges, there is a collective call for collaborative efforts between government agencies and industry players to revive cross-border trade and foster economic growth in the region

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