According to US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the Nigerian government’s foreign exchange policies over the past year are hindering the ability of US companies to do business in Nigeria.
US companies have “been quite explicit it’s a barrier to trade,” Pritzker said in an interview on Monday in Lagos.
The CBN, with Buhari’s backing, has tried stop the currency weakening amid a rout in prices of oil, by restricting imports and foreign exchange trading.
The apex bank has pegged the naira at 197-199 since March and foreign investors have sold naira bonds and stocks to avoid a devaluation they see as all but inevitable. Experts say the currency will weaken 20% to 249.5 per dollar in three months, while the black market rate fell to a record 305 this month.
The policies also hurt Nigerian manufacturers because they import about 52% of their inputs and need dollars to pay for those, she said.
“It sounds like you’re starting to see factory lay-offs,” Pritzker said. “That’s not good for Nigeria. And, of course, President Buhari is focused on inclusive growth. So, pointing out some of the contradictions between objectives and policies is part of the conversation we’ll have.”
Pritzker said she will raise the issue with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, the capital, on Tuesday.