Impact of regulatory frameworks on informal cross border trade in Nigeria : a case study of the rice import restriction and border closure of 2019


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




Informal cross border trade (ICBT) appears to be neglected in trade policy discussions in Nigeria and Africa despite its enormous contribution to income earnings and food security. Regulatory policies often perceive ICBT as a social and economic threat. Hence, government policies often focus on the formal traders, neglecting the challenges encountered by informal cross border traders. ICBT constitutes the bulk of the informal economy and comprises vulnerable, small traders who use informal channels for trade as a result of non-inclusive government policies. Failure to develop regulations and policies that incorporate the realities of informal cross border traders is costly to both the ICBT actors and the government. First, a significant portion of government revenue is lost to ICBT in unpaid customs duties and tax. Second, existing policies continue to exclude traders involved in ICBT, preventing them from benefiting from incentives and other trade facilitation initiatives by the government. Excluding informal cross border traders in trade policy discussions undermines the profitability of cross border trade for all economic actors. This research combines a theory-driven approach with empirical case studies to evaluate the impact of regulatory frameworks on ICBT in Nigeria. Examining the rice import restriction and border closure policies implemented in 2019, this thesis demonstrates that (i) the trade regulatory framework in Nigeria is non-inclusive of ICBT, (ii) hostility and non-inclusion further drives informality in cross border trade in Nigeria, and in Africa, and, (iii) ICBT actors are crucial to building effective trade regulatory frameworks. By identifying the ideological gaps in the current regulatory framework, I propose a reform to the cross border trade regulatory framework in Nigeria. I also identify the gaps in regional trade regulatory frameworks. The empirical case studies corroborate the need for a reform in the approach to cross border trade regulation. The analysis of trade data from the case studies reveals the inadequacy and ineffectiveness of the current framework.

Date Available



Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International




Law, Peter A. Allard School of