INFLUX OF CHINA MADE PRINTING MACHINES IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECT

In the face of the earth, no state or nation could exist in isolation. In other words, no nation could perhaps be in a state of autarky. Which means that no nation could have all resources (both natural and human) at her disposal.

In an article: The Impact of Globalization on the Growth of Nigerian Economy from 1960-2010: Error Correction Model Analysis by I.M. Shuaib et al of Department of Business Administration and Management, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria and published in the British Journal of Economics, Management & Trade, the authors said Smith (1776) in his work advocated for interlinks (.i.e. globalization or trade liberalization) of economies. The latter had affirmed that the only way economic growth and development could easily be sustained among nations of the world is for every nation to specialize on that good she has an absolute advantage and import that good she has an absolute disadvantage.

The 21st century debate of nations is on how to reap the full scale benefits of the globalization of the world’s economy. Globalization leads to increased openness of economies to international trade, financial flows, and direct foreign investment. Today, globalization is similar to foreign direct investment (FDI) or foreign private investment (FPI), trade liberalization, that is an investment a foreign investor has in the developing country(ies) where the resources are available, the parental (or headquarter) is located at the developed countries. The investors usually turn out to be the multinational corporations (MNCs) or transnational companies (TNCs) .

Globalization constitutes a critical motivation for growth and development, business opportunities, more rapid growth of knowledge and innovation, or the prospect of a world too interdependent to engage in war. In part, globalization may well turn out to be all of these things. For other people, however, globalization raises troubling concerns: that inequalities may be accentuated both across and within countries, that environmental degradation may be accelerated, that the international dominance of the richest countries may be expanded and locked in, and that some peoples and regions may be left behind. The equation of global influence is fundamentally determined by a vibrant economy that is characterized by inherent ability to sustain a steady state growth path and development.

The impact of globalization on the development process of emerging economies like ours Nigeria, have aroused closer and more critical examination of the vestiges of globalization as a result of the persistent failures of such economies. A progressive increase in the outputs of major sectors of an economy is a manifestation of the attainment of economic growth. Basically, economic growth is driven by a process that is generated and sustained by the effective utilization of a country’s economic resources.

Today, globalization has become a force to reckon with in the printing industry. The various technological improvements in various spheres of lives have opened unhindered access to different parts of the world. As Frank Romano asserts, “The ability to send files electronically and collaborate online on document changes and proofing has made the physical location of the printing company less important.” In the days of old, printers in Nigeria used to compete with fellow printers across the road. Now, they have printers across the world to compete with.

Late High Chief Oludaisi Oriade, pioneer President of the defunct Institute of Printing of Nigeria (IOPN) and now Society of Printing Practitioners of Nigeria (SPPN) in a presentation titled “Institute of Printing and Challenges of Globalization” once puts it this way: “the  manufacturing sector in Nigeria has been a major casualty of globalization as our industries are facing unfair competition arising from dumping and importation of fake, cheap and sub-standard products into the country”.

Nigeria’s notable trade partner is China. The bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China dates back to February 10, 1971 when both country formally established their diplomatic relations. These relations which grew especially during the military era have now expanded on growing bilateral trade and strategic cooperation, hence making China one of Nigeria’s closest allies and partners. China is also one of Nigeria’s important trading and export partners. According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 85% of Nigerians view China’s influence positively, with only 10% expressing a negative view, making Nigeria the most pro-Chinese nation in the world.

China has been the world’s fastest growing economy since initiating economic reforms two and a half decades ago. Its influence on the global economy has expanded dramatically, particularly its role as a global manufacturer and trader. For example, in 2004 and according to Nicholas R. Lardy (2002) in his piece “Integrating China into the Global Economy ”,  China overtook Japan to become the world’s third largest trading economy (measured as the sum of imports and exports), but its participation in the global economy is not limited to trade. It has been the largest developing country recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) for more than a decade and raises significant amounts of funds in international capital markets. China’s economic diplomacy has accelerated as well, as it pursues an increasingly visible role both in global trade liberalization in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and in regional and bilateral agreements.

The main argument here is that China have used its advanced technology as an increasingly important element of globalization and of competitiveness and that the acceleration in the rate of technological change and the pre-requisites necessary to participate effectively in globalization are making it more difficult for many developing countries including Nigeria to compete favourably in the manufacture and quality use of industrial equipments and machinery.

As observed by Yomi Otukoya, immediate past Superintendent of Press, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation (OSGOF), Abuja, “China is everywhere; it only recently assisted Great Britain in the area of electricity power generation. Nigeria and other developing countries in Africa must develop more technological capability and greater flexibility to succeed in the more demanding and asymmetric global environment. It is likely that the pressures of globalization and greater international competition generate strong protectionist retrenchment in both developed and developing countries; these should be resisted. The world as a whole will be better off if developed countries focus on increasing their flexibility to adjust to changing comparative advantage resulting from rapid technical change, and developing countries, Nigeria inclusive must focus on increasing their education, infrastructure, agriculture and technological capability. There remains however large asymmetries in the global system and greater efforts need to be made to provide some global balancing and transfer mechanisms. The

influx of printing machines manufactured in China has really fast tracked the Nigerian economy unlike when the country relied solely on supply from Britain and Germany”.

” During the last decade, trade and investment relations between Nigeria and China have been of increasing importance to both countries – Nigeria is the highest trading partner with China in Africa and a major importer of China’s finished products. However, there is a trade in-balance between Nigeria and China as China export less of Nigeria’s goods and services. Governments at all levels must look into this to reverse the trend. Only recently did the Nigerian government have to seek for foreign loan from China to enhance the implementation of its 2016 budget and to be able to implement some of its campaign promises to the electorate.” Noted Otukoya.

The former print boss further held “China has over two decades been basically involved in the provision and maintenance of infrastructure for virtually many areas of national development in Nigeria such as building and construction of roads, bridges, oil and gas, airports, stadia, seaports, railways and in the provision of military hardware’s including logistics.  Nigeria explicitly should try to attract foreign investors to bring their advanced foreign technology to develop its own. In addition, not all countries that have put in place foreign investment promotion policies have met with success. Countries have sometimes preferred to develop their own technology, rather than to rely (primarily) on foreign technology. A competitive market environment is the precondition for a steady improvement in productivity”.

” The influx of printing equipments and machinery manufactured in China into the Nigerian economy can be viewed from two angles, firstly it has helped many less financially endowed Printers to acquire their own equipments cheaply which hitherto was not possible because of Western countries dominance and with their powerful currencies. Also some of these equipments made in China do not require complex installation costs, accessories and gadgets. Secondly some of China made machines are more of electronics than mechanical as a result they can easily be manipulated and maintained through access to the internet”, he averred.

The negative aspects of the influx of machines manufactured in China are that fake and substandard parts and accessories have found their ways into Nigeria. In an interview with journalists, National Coordinator/CEO, Nigeria-China Business Council (NCBC), Chief Mathew Uwaekwe says unpatriotic Nigerians actually ask Chinese manufacturers to lower the standard of their goods and ship same into the country. According to him, “policy consistency and products standardization are key to opening the country into the international space.”

“Substandard products in our country is due largely to the activities of unscrupulous importers that are both Nigerians and foreigners alike, and this often lead to constant and undesirable breakdown of some of these machines and equipments, thus resulting in revenue loss to the Printers as well as not being able to deliver services on schedule” added Otukoya.

Explicitly putting it as ‘Blame Nigerians for influx of substandard Chinese products’, the NCBC Boss claimed the preponderance of substandard products from China remains a sore point in Nigeria-China trade relations. According to him, “ You see, people will say they placed order for  standard goods, but the Chinese shipped substandard ones to them. We travelled back to China, made investigations together with the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing and our Consul General Office in Shanghai through the Economic Department. There we were able to meet some of the Chinese manufacturers who said to us your people come here and we give them prices of what they want; they say no, the price is too high, reduce it. We have in China three categories of same product range – the high, the medium and the lower category. So, Nigerian importers will say, oh I need this product pointing to the lower standard and claims this is the standard we are using in our country. They will say no, reduce the standard and this happens in every circle of importation”.

The challenge to curtail some of these anomalies is for the regulatory bodies such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) should ensure standards are not compromised, this can be achieved through streamlining the activities of importers and manufacturers representatives of some of these machines.

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