Automakers, car dealers and other industry stakeholders have condemned China’s resolve to flood Nigeria and other global markets with its used cars. According to stakeholders, this strategy is expected to shore up China’s income from its automobile industry.
So far, government officials within the automobile industry as well as those in the vehicle importation business are yet to confirm the development. Media sources have, however, revealed that nothing less than 25 per cent of about 40,000 used cars imported via the Nigerian ports over the last two months were manufactured in China.
Meanwhile, local car manufacturers and dealers have not held back in their condemnation of the policy, which they have unanimously affirmed would hurt and possibly kill the local auto industry.
It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that they have tagged it an attempt to transform Nigeria into a dumping ground for used cars that have a short lifespan.
Speaking on the issue, the General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communications at the Coscharis Group, Mr Abiona Babarinde pointed out that if the policy turns out to be a true position of the Chinese government, it would be counterproductive and unfortunate for Nigerians.
“Used cars from China or any country should not be encouraged by our government now. It will not be value-adding. Nigeria will be a dumping ground for all manner of vehicles. This can’t grow the local auto industry; it will be a setback for the local assemblers of vehicles.
“Besides, it will be confusing for the government to encourage the importation of used vehicles from China at the time same it is encouraging local production of vehicles.”
Still, on the issue, car dealers and local manufacturers pointed out that it was quite absurd for Nigerian to open up its port to China to allow the latter to ship used cars into the country. They added that this policy is worsened by its timing. They explain that Nigerian dealers are already burdened with the influx of American and European cars.
According to the Marketing Manager, Dana Motors, Mr Olawale Jimoh, allowing used Chinese models into the country would amount to retarding the little progress the industry had recorded over the last five years. He added that the move has the capacity to cripple the nation’s economy with massive job losses.
“What we will be basically doing is to help the Chinese economy grow. By bringing in their used cars, production of new cars will grow in their own country. This will help them generate more employment and increase their Gross Domestic Product.
“It will also make our country a junkyard of used cars in the world; we are currently contending with used cars from European countries, America and all of that.”
The Executive Director, Nigeria Automotive Manufacturers Association, Mr Remi Olaofe also lent his voice to the outrage that has greeted the policy. He lamented what he described as the Federal Government’s failure to show enough commitment towards ensuring the success of Nigeria’s auto policy.
Meanwhile, industry experts have lamented the delay in getting President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the Nigerian auto-bill. Olaofe explained that investors would not be encouraged to invest in a country where automobile businesses are not protected.
“To ban the importation of textiles and milk to ‘protect our local industries’ and allow the importation of used vehicles from China is a dumb economic policy,” Senator Shehu Sanni noted.
China’s Ministry of Commerce had reportedly announced via a statement that it had concluded plans to commence the exportation of used cars to 10 global markets including Nigeria. The Chinese government was also reported to have explained that the goal is to drive its vehicle sales, which experienced a decline for the first time since the 1990s.
According to the report, the first batch of 300 used cars is expected to arrive in Nigeria soon.
Barring his mind on the Chinese government’s proposed plan, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf pointed out that used cars are not under import prohibition list. He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to redefine the age limit and types of cars that could be brought imported into Nigeria.
“There are too many junks coming into the country and this poses safety risks. The government needs to redefine the age limit of cars coming into the country.
“Also, the import duty on used cars should be reduced to a maximum of 20 per cent so that people can afford newer models of used cars instead of going for junks. The market for rickety vehicles has become very huge because of the affordability challenge caused by high import duty,” he explained.
However, sources at the National Automotive Design as well as the Development Council and the Nigeria Customs Service have made it clear that the policy has not been communicated to them.
According to investigations by the Punch newspaper in Abuja, the federal agencies involved are yet to receive any official communication on the details of the planned shipment of used cars from China to Nigeria.
A top official with the Nigeria Customs Service, the policy should not be taken seriously until they receive documents to back up the claims.
“For now, the plan by the Chinese is non-existent to us because it is yet to become an action. We have not been informed officially.”