BATN and government agencies set to concretize their relationship for the benefit of the economy

British American Tobacco, the BAT company, has decided to establish a stronger relationship with the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC in its efforts to maintain its business operations in the Nigeria, create more jobs and generate increased revenue for the government.

BATN, which commissioned its $150 million factory in Ibadan in 2003, created over 350,000 direct and indirect jobs, paid over N400 billion in taxes, generated about $110 million in exports to 14 African countries and invested over 2 billion naira in corporate social responsibility, sees a deep relationship with key government agencies as motivation to further contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification and its role in the country’s socio-economic development .

The expanded relationship, which is crucial this time around, will enable it to meet operational challenges and improve its competitive efficiency, especially as the African Free Trade Agreement will allow free movement of goods between regions.
In conversation with Area Chiefs of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the representative of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) who recently paid a courtesy visit to the BAT factory in Ibadan, Pat Rich, BATN’s Director of Legal Affairs for West and Central Africa, told them, “You are really instrumental in everything we do. I really hope that we will continue this partnership and this warm relationship”, for the benefit of the economy.

The NCS team was led by Oyo/Osun Command Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba, while NIS Oyo State Command Comptroller Isah Dansuleiman led the team of NIS officials. NEPC Trade Promotion Advisor Bolanle Emmanuel led the NEPC delegation from Oyo State.

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Speaking on the investments made by the company, BAT West and Central Africa External Affairs Director Odiri Erewa-Meggisson said the company has invested heavily in Nigeria since its inception.
She noted that the company’s bid to expand its reach into the West and Central African market required an increase in the initial investment in the company’s factory from $150 million to over $185 million. “It shows how committed we are as a group to investing in Nigeria, which is the hub of our business in West and Central Africa,” she remarked.

“Nigeria is important to us and you (the trade regulatory agencies) are critical to our business as our relationships help drive a sustainable business not just for today but also for the future.”
She said Nigeria is a hub for the West and Central Africa region. “We have collectively paid over 400 billion naira to date and have grown from exporting products from the initial three countries to 14 countries now, generating foreign exchange for the country.”

Director of Operations, BAT West and Central Africa, Alberto Kauer spoke about the future plans for the factory and the company’s investments. “We have several opportunities including generating more exports and in doing so increasing revenue and growing the Nigerian economy.

“Each year, we generate approximately $110 million in exports to 14 African countries from BAT’s facilities in Nigeria. As a company, we need the support of all government agencies here to achieve this together. This year we will install the first solar energy in the company. In this factory, we have the ability to produce more even if we continue to do our business the right way,” he said.

Kauer also spoke about the company’s business transformation to build A Better Tomorrow and its sustainability program. He said BAT is focused on reducing the health impact of its business through new categories and scientifically proven products that reduce risk and reduce its carbon footprint. He noted that the company plans to install the first solar power in the factory next year.

On their part, the visitors – Dansuleiman, Jaiyeoba and Bolanle praised BAT for its huge contribution to the Nigerian economy and pledged their continued support to the company and continued cooperation between their organizations and the company. Jaiyeoba described BAT as one of the highly compliant companies in NCS, noting how critical it is for the service to support the company by promoting its trade to generate revenue for the government, especially through the Zone. African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

While praising the value added by BAT to the Nigerian economy, NEPC State Trade Adviser Oyo, in her address, pledged that NEPC management will not relent in its efforts to ensure that it clears outstanding Export Expansion Grants (EEG) owed to BAT. .

Ashley C. Reynolds