Nigeria recession deals blow to smuggling hub Benin

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Nigeria recession deals blow to smuggling hub Benin
Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:38pm GMT

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* Benin acts as "warehouse" for protectionist Nigeria

* Re-exports of used cars from Benin to Nigeria slump

* Secret canal networks facilitate cross-border trade

By Allegresse Sasse and Paul Carsten

COTONOU/SEME, Nigeria, March 30 (Reuters) – On the outskirts
of Benin's port city of Cotonou, thousands of used cars fill a
vast parking lot but the merchants who used to come here from
Nigeria to haggle for them are absent as recession bites at
home.

Fréjus Fatondji works at one of dozens of car lots in the
commune of Seme-Kpodji, wedged on a spit of land between Cotonou
and the Nigerian border.

"There are no more Nigerian buyers, the car parks are full
of merchandise, and mechanics, drivers, electricians, painters
have all lost their jobs," he said, gazing morosely over a row
of second-hand cars imported from Europe.

At an adjacent lot, Tadjou Adejouma, vice president of a car
import dealership, said that until last year they were selling
35,000 vehicles a month and now they barely sell 3,000.

Residents say drivers used to pass by in huge convoys,
speeding towards the border, beeping their horns in celebration.
Bars that sprang up to cater for visiting clients have closed
and dozens of Lebanese, who dominate the import business in West
Africa, have departed, residents say.
Continued…

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