Indications emerged on Thursday that the French tyre manufacturer, Michelin, might soon reopen its production plant in the country.
A highly placed source in the company told our correspondent that Michelin might consider resuming manufacturing in the country if the Federal Government lived up to its promise of making the business environment conducive.
The Federal Government had, on Friday, at the opening of the Lagos International Trade Fair, said it would be offering tyre manufacturers a five to 10-year tax holiday as part of its commitment to the new automobile policy.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan at the opening ceremony of the fair, said the value chain on key automobile products, including metal, iron ore, plastic and tyre would also be improved.
He added that the new automobile policy would include bringing back Michelin and Dunlop, saying, “Part of the problem was that some of the tyres were brought in at 10 per cent, while some are 20 per cent and 40 per cent.
“Anybody that goes into tyre production like Michelin and others will start bringing in tyres at five per cent based on the level of commitment to produce tyres locally.”
Although the Michelin source said the company would make its position on the issue public after due consultations, he, however, stressed that the idea of coming back was welcomed as Nigeria remained the biggest market in sub-Sahara Africa.
He said, “If the Federal Government follows the said plan, Michelin may begin producing here again; the company may consider the proposal.
“When we were in Nigeria, we were producing the same quality of tyres as what we import from our parent company in France; so, a chance to do that again is welcomed.”
Michelin had in 2007 announced the decision to close its manufacturing plants in the country, while retaining sales operations and maintaining its rubber plantations.
Over 1,300 jobs were terminated when the main factory was shut down.
A spokesperson for the company was quoted to have said then that the move was “a strategic decision related to problems with cost competitiveness.”