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1.1 Background to the Study
Trade arrangements and engagement between Nigeria and its trading partners are in tandem with the magnitude of various endowments the country possesses. For instance, Nigeria is endowed with a population of over one hundred and seventy (170) million citizens, oil production of over two (2) million barrels per day and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over USD 500 billion (U.S. Department of State, 2015:3). On trade footprint, the country’s total external trade stood at N16, 426.8 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2015, with an import value of N2, 833.5 billion from Asia, N2, 501.6 billion from Europe, N871.3 billion from America, N420.4 billion from within the African continent, and N213.8 billion from ECOWAS region (National Bureau of Statistics, Foreign Trade Report, 2015: 1-2).
According to the U.S. Department of State (2015:3), Nigeria is the thirteenth world’s largest oil producer and sixth largest oil exporter, producing high-value and low-sulfur crude oil. The contribution of crude oil to the value of total domestic export trade in 2015 amounted to N6, 945.3 billion (NBS, Foreign Trade Statistics Report 2015: 3). Chete, Adeoti, Adeyinka and Ogundele (2014), assert that prior to the discovery of crude oil, agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. The agricultural sector provided food, raw materials, revenue and employment for the nation’s teeming population. However, after discovering crude oil in commercial quantities after the nation’s independence in 1960’s, its exploration and exportation weakened the agricultural sector and led to a shift away from industrial activities of a productive nature towards an over-reliance on a single commodity, which is – crude oil (Chete et al., 2014; UNCTAD, 2015).
Correspondingly, Nigeria's trade policy after the nation's independence in 1960 was largely based on an import substituting strategy (World Bank, 2010). However, in the early 1980's, Nigeria encountered various economic problems, which stirred up the need to adopt an effective expansionary trade policy that could ameliorate the apparent economic problems in the country. Hence, in 1986, the expanding economic crisis and its degrading effects on the nation's economy formed the basis for the adoption of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), as unguardedly imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (Olaniyi, 2014; Odejimi & Odejimi, 2015).
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was widely acknowledged as a profound economic reform for reversing the downward trends in the economy. The policy was aimed at; promoting investments, reducing the total reliance on crude oil revenue, developing and utilizing domestic technology, encouraging the use of local rather than imported raw materials, privatizing and commercializing state-owned enterprises (Chete et al., 2014). These initiatives were proposed by the global financial institutions, that is, the institutions of the Washington Consensus as the panacea for the promotion of industrial efficiency, and improvement in the performance of the nation's industrial sector (Tamuno & Edoumiekumo, 2012; Olaifa, Subair & Biala, 2013; Chete et al., 2014).
Also, documented evidence reveal that trade liberalization was one of the fundamental objectives of the Structural Adjustment Programme (Olaifa et al, 2013). Initially, it was expected that the implementation of the trade liberalization policy, under the platform of SAP, would assist in eliminating foreign exchange control, removing price control, disbanding commodity boards and industrial output in the Nigerian economy (Tamuno & Edoumiekumo; 2012; Olaifa et al., 2013; Osa, 2014). However, Tamuno and Edoumiekumo (2012) posit that the adoption of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in Nigeria failed to meet up with these expectations and was unable to reverse the economic crisis in the nation. Pragmatically, the SAP prescription only succeeded in worsening the socioeconomic and political experiences of the country. More importantly, the policy prescription was largely blamed for destroying the economy of the country, as it did to most of the developing countries that adopted it (Olaifa, Subair & Biala, 2013; Chete et al., 2014).
According to Omolo (2011), trade liberalization is a process that spurs the removal and reduction of barriers to trade. The process ensures free movement of goods and services from one nation to another. Osa (2014) opines that trade liberalization is a trade policy with minimal tariffs, tamed quantitative restrictions, and less effective devices obstructing the free movement of goods between countries. While, Asongo, Jamala, Joel and Waindu (2013) define trade liberalization as the process of meaningfully reducing restrictions in international trade. However, for the purpose of this study, trade liberalization is defined as as a deep-rooted agreement by compliant nations for the complete removal or partial reduction of several trades’ restrictive instruments that hinders the free flow of goods across borders.
Advocates of trade liberalization believe that it; promotes competition, deters monopoly, links national interests, breaks down national animosities, offers consumers broad varieties of product to choose from, encourages domestic firms to be innovative and increases the likelihood of firms to operate in many new markets around the globe (Boyrie & Johns, 2013; Parinduria & Thangavelu, 2013; Falvey, Foster-McGregor & Khalida, 2013). However, in contrast with the assertion of the proponents of trade liberalization, critics of free trade emphasize that there is likelihood that trade liberalization may harm fragile domestic industries and their workers, more than the economy as a whole (Czinkota, 2010; Bittencourt, Larson & Kraybill, 2010; Borraz, Rossi & Ferres, 2012). These authors argued further that, in the absence of matching domestic reforms and policies that maximizes gains from trade, and protect fragile industries from transitional costs, regressive outcomes are more prone to occur. Further evidence also reveals that unguided trade liberalization has the potential to endanger not only the inexperienced domestic producers, but also unduly entrench the monopolistic hands of foreign competitors in the domestic market in a way that erodes the proceeds of liberalization.
In line with some of the observations presented in the preceding paragraphs, the last quarter of the 20th century has shown remarkable improvement in the volume of cross-border trade, as well as a considerable reduction of trade barriers in the global market (Hill, 2014). Prior to this period, various countries protected their fledging industries by setting high tariffs and administrative restrictions on imported products. This trend propelled other nations to also retaliate with the imposition of strict measures on international trade and contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930's (Case, Fair & Oster, 2013; Hill, 2014). Hence, in the light of the paradigm shift of global trade after the World War II and the experience of the Great Depression, twenty three advanced industrial nations under the leadership of the United States, moved a motion to correct the trend in international trade that led to global economy depression by establishing a multilateral agreement known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947 at Geneva, for regulating international trade and promoting trade liberalization (Begg, Vernasca, Fischer & Dornbusch, 2011; Case et al., 2013; Hill, 2014).
According to Falvey et al (2013), the upsurge in the adoption of trade liberalization policy in developing countries within the last three decades, is as a result of the preponderance of empirical evidence that links trade liberalization with economic growth, the dissatisfaction of the developing countries with the import substitution strategy, as well as the inclusion of trade liberalization reforms as a major requirement for obtaining financial loans and grants from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Correspondingly, Amiti and Davis (2011) assert that, while developing countries are being persuaded to open their economy to international trade by removing or reducing trade restrictions, industrialized countries continue to protect the sectors, such as the textiles sector which developing countries have comparative advantage. Equally, Shakur (2012) reiterates that despite GATT’s achievement in minimizing tariff rates on manufactured products, most developing countries still experience a systematic discrimination against their products from the developed countries.
The textile industry plays a central role in the economic development of many developing countries and about one hundred and thirty (130) developing nations depend on the textile industry for employment and exports (Seyoum, 2010). Likewise, a report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (2015) reveals that among the developing Asian economies, Pakistan's and India's growth rates are largely attributed to the growth of their textile industries (UNIDO, 2015). The Nigerian textile industry performed these roles as well, especially up to the 1980s. In this early period, the country’s textile industry with over 250 functional factories was rated the largest in Africa after Egypt and South Africa (Bello, Inyinbor, Dada & Oluyori, 2013). The industry was also the second largest employer of labor providing an estimated direct employment which was about 500,000 persons and indirectly about 1,750,000. The industry further served as a major source of revenue to the government (Aguiyi et al, 2011).
The Nigerian textile industry was well-established in the pre-colonial era when for many years, various textile processes including textile weaving, spinning and dyeing, ginning and carding were done with bare hands. At that time, the industry offered good support to the economy because the country had adequate raw materials for textile production (Bello et al, 2013). The modern industrial production of textile was pioneered by the Kaduna Textile Mills that was established in 1956 and followed by the establishment of Nigerian Textile Mills in 1960.
Table 1.1 below shows the prominent textile firms in Nigeria in the 1960s by their locations and year of establishment.
Table 1.1: Players of the Nigerian Textile Industry in 1960s
Year of Establishment
Diverted to cars and edible oil
Divested to packaging (2004)
Source: Bello et al, (2013)
In Nigeria, the structure of the textile industry producing fabrics was similar to the global structure whereby there were over 250 functional factories between 1970s and 1980. Textile companies were spread across Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Funtua, Gusau, Asaba, Aba and Port-Harcourt. Lagos had the highest number of textile factories with mostly small and un-integrated single-process plants in contrast to the integrated factories in Kaduna where the oldest integrated textile mills were located. Various government policies encouraged process integration of the textile industry.
Table 1.2: The Location and Range of Products of Existing Textile Companies
Number of textile Companies
Range of Number of Products
1 to 4
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