Testifying before a Nigerian Senate committee last week the country’s Minister of Agriculture called out wealthy Nigerians whom he says are ordering pizza from London.
Do you know, sir, that there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London; they buy in London and bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport. It is a very annoying situation and we have to move a lot faster in cutting down some of these things.
The daily British Airways Boeing 747 from London Heathrow to Lagos, Nigeria departs London at 11:20 a.m. and arrives at 5:55 p.m. — just in time for dinner.
Like President Trump, Nigeria is very worried over trade deficits.
Nigeria’s agriculture minister says Nigeria has become “a nation of importers” complaining that “Toothpick every year costs us 18 million dollars; tomato paste costs us 400 million dollars.” It’s not clear who ‘us’ is other than the people buying the tomato paste because they value it more than other things they might spend their money on. Perhaps he believes consumers aren’t getting a good enough deal on tomato paste, though if that were the case he’d push to lower tariffs.
Instead he declares that by the end of the year Nigeria “can comfortably tell the importers of tomato paste to stop” importing. What a weird notion of trade. Trading money for tomato sauce at the grocery store effectively means you have a trade deficit with the grocery store, since they aren’t buying produce back from you. Moving the grocery store outside of the U.S. or Nigeria doesn’t change the calculus.
Nonetheless, while the government is attacking Nigerians for conspicuous consumption their charges are incredibly light on specifics,
- Is it UberEATS or GrubHub that’s picking up the pizza and flying it down on British Airways?
- Or perhaps it’s being transported as cargo?
- And why can’t you get good pizza in Lagos? Colleagues who have been to Juba rave about the pizza — if you’re an international aid worker with a Western income spending time in South Sudan, the locals will figure out a way to meet your desire for pizza since you’ll pay a premium for it.